UTTC Expands Workforce Training with Grant

Oct 22nd, 2014 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Dennis Neumann

United Tribes expanded its Heavy Equipment Operator fleet with CAT equipment. Photo by Dennis Neumann

The Heavy Equipment Operator program at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) has expanded with help from the North Dakota Department of Commerce. The department authorized a $532,372 grant in to acquire more training equipment. The funding allowed the college to add five units that will broaden the training experience in heavy equipment operation.

New in the fleet are a motor-grader, loader, bulldozer, excavator and skid-steer loader. Previously the program used a back-hoe and a small loader. All of the equipment is immediately recognizable by the yellow color and the “CAT” label, manufactured by the Caterpillar Corporation.

The college formed a training connection with the world-wide manufacturer that makes available Caterpillar’s digitized instructional materials for the operation and maintenance of each piece of equipment. “This is exceptionally good for us,” says Steve Shepherd, the college’s Workforce Training coordinator. “It enhances our program with equipment and the Caterpillar experts will make presentations to our students on a scheduled basis.” The UTTC program also uses virtual-reality simulators in the classroom to prepare students for the real thing.

The Department of Commerce funding came from a pool of $5 million in workforce development grants authorized for North Dakota’s tribal colleges. The grants support degree or certificate-granting programs that qualify students to earn highly recruited jobs in the state. They also provide assistance to students to establish new businesses operating within the state that will employ North Dakotans.

“We feel very good about our partnership with the state to help address opportunities afforded by energy development in the Bakken region,” said Phil Baird, UTTC interim president.  “We remain committed to providing workforce training for all state citizens in the long term.”

The Department of Commerce administers the grants through an application process. Recipients report back on several factors including expenditures, number of students assisted, graduation rates, new or improved training or other programs leading to a certificate or degree, job placement rates, rate of students assisted who seek further educational opportunities, and the number of jobs or businesses created.

“Tribal Colleges in North Dakota continue to serve a critical role across our state in providing education and training needed to fulfill career goals,” Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson stated. “This grant will increase UTTC’s ability to prepare students for our growing statewide economy.”

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