By Jennifer Little
Big Sandy Community and Technical College
HAGER HILL – Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) its Workforce Solutions division held a graduation ceremony for its inaugural fiber optics, lineman, OSHA and CDL program on Thursday, October 6 on its Hager Hill campus.
The graduates, many of whom were displaced from the coal industry, completed a rigorous 12-week training program. Many have already been offered jobs.
Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of BSCTC, was on hand to offer encouragement to the new graduates.
“This is a major, life-changing step for you,” he said. “Any retraining requires a step out and some of you have been in careers prior to this. Look at the future ahead of you with a ‘GOAL’ in mind: G – Be great at the small stuff; O – Overcome every obstacle; A – Keep a good attitude; and L – Launching – take a step out to see where you go.”
BSCTC was the first college in the eastern Kentucky to offer Fiber Optics Association-sanctioned Fiber Optics Training. The idea to combine fiber optics with lineman, CDL and OSHA training was aimed to make those who complete more marketable with a diverse skillset to prospective employers.
Ralph Leslie, an employee from Big Sandy RECC, was the instructor of the inaugural lineman class. He was presented a plaque of appreciation by college officials.
“I have worked for RECC for several years, they are a consumer owned, non-profit company and for 37 years, I am proud to say we have been keeping people warm and fed,” he said. “Anything you set your mind to, you can do, and learn everything you can.”
Kelli Hall, dean of career education and workforce development, said extensive trainings, such as this, are not possible without support from business and industry.
“I want to thank our employer partner, Big Sandy RECC, for their willingness to work with us and help our students,” she said. “This is about training and equipping students with new skills that they can use to make a living.”
Josh Moore and Bryan Smith were laid off coal miners. Like many they were looking for new careers. Both said their friends helped them find the information about the program on Facebook and hope to pursue a career as lineman and hope to find a job close to home.
“I learned a lot about fiber optics. You definitely need surgical hands for that” said Moore, smiling.
“This is definitely a change from working underground” added Smith.
Both gentlemen agreed and went on to commend the program for giving them several employable options.
“We have Lineman, Fiber Optics, CDL, OSHA, CPR and NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate), and are ready to work” said Moore.
BSCTC will launch a new class in the coming weeks. For more information, contact Sally Porter at (606) 218-1276 or email [email protected]