IDB luncheon provides insight to UWA, Shelton partnership

Jenn Tate – Special to The Watchman
University of West Alabama President Dr. Richard Holland, Shelton State Dean of Student Services Dr. Thomas Huebner and Shelton State Dean of Technical Services Dr. Steve Fair were in attendance at last week’s annual Industrial Appreciation Luncheon at Rooster Hall to inform local leaders of the details of the newly-formed technical education partnership between the schools and its potential impact on local workforce development.

Local industry leaders got an in-depth look last Thursday at the recently-formed partnership between the University of West Alabama and Shelton State Community College.

The annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon, hosted by the Industrial Development Board, welcomed representatives from both UWA and Shelton State to provide local industry leaders and community dignitaries insights into the budding partnership and its potential impact on workforce development in the region.

“When we choose a speaker for the luncheon each year, we try to choose someone who will provide valuable information to our industry leaders,” Diane Brooker, vice chairman of the IDB, said. “We try to choose a speaker that will be useful and exciting to them as well.”

Answering the invitation to attend the Rooster Hall event were University of West Alabama President Dr. Richard Holland, Shelton State Dean of Technical Services Dr. Steve Fair and Dean of Student Services Dr. Thomas Huebner.

“We invited speakers from UWA and Shelton State and requested that they speak on their newly-formed workforce development partnership,” Brooker said. “They spoke to us not only about the partnership that was formed between them, but also about the process in order to get the students started.”

UWA recently received a workforce development grant in excess of $2M that may, in addition to other endeavors, provide assistance in readying the New Era building in Demopolis for technical education courses.

“Shelton is looking to start truck driving schools that don’t require a lot of equipment. So they’re hoping to start those courses soon,” Brooker said, sharing just some of the information relayed to those in attendance by the visiting trio. “The workforce development is not only for students in high school, but also for underemployed adults. We are all extremely excited because when you bring in prospective industry into your community and they look around, one of the first questions they ask is ‘What type of training is provided here to help train the workforce that I will need?’”

Additionally, both schools expressed their willingness to change their respective educational course should the need arise as local industry takes shape.

“Shelton State and UWA both committed that, as we move forward, if they need to change whatever type of training is offered, they will in order to meet the needs of the industry in the area,” Brooker said.