Fremont Diesel Career Academy Moves to Fremont Contract Carriers

Friday, October 12, 2018

Asking questions and collaborating on solutions is critical to the ultimate success of Fremont. It is possible to solve local challenges when the community comes together, something that is on clear display when entering the Fremont Diesel Career Academy. In 2015, the Greater Fremont Development Council held a meeting that brought local companies in need of diesel tech talent together with area community colleges to discuss the future pipeline for this skilled trade.  In that meeting, it was identified that industry leaders believed the shortage of technicians was due to a lack of interest from graduating high school students. In reality, the data showed there was plenty of interest from high school students but a lack of facilities to train them in. At the time, Metropolitan Community College had ended up turning students away because they did not have the available space, infrastructure or instructors to teach more students. Additionally, any students that entered the diesel tech program would be “hired” before they even graduated, leaving Fremont companies little opportunity to meet new technicians coming out of MCC.

To address the shortage of diesel technicians, Greater Fremont Development Council advocated for a Fremont-based diesel technician program by attending the Metropolitan Community College Diesel Tech Advisory Board on a monthly basis and continuing to facilitate meetings between Fremont industry partners and the college.  According to Tim McCormick, President and CEO of FCC, “We discussed how the schools needed to partner with industry to improve access to facilities and capital; to be able to accept, teach and graduate more students in the diesel technology field.” The Fremont Diesel Career Academy was the clear solution.

From idea to implementation

Once business and community leaders stepped up with capital to open the academy, space was donated; no small feat given the amount of space required to facilitate hands-on instruction.  Butler Ag Equipment was gracious enough to donate space in their facility and Metropolitan Community College provided the instructor. Students receive both high school and college credit hours for the program.  “I think a lot of the credit should go to Barb Pierce with the Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC), Tad Dinkins of Butler Ag, and Rick Sandvig from Metropolitan Community College. FCC along with a few other businesses and organizations donated money, and we are now also donating the facility space for the training, but if it had not been for those other fine people it never would have gotten off the ground” said Tim McCormick.

 “We were thrilled to have area businesses give the seed money to start the program and Metropolitan Community College committed to sustaining it,” said Barb Pierce, Existing Business Director of GFDC.  “Local support was key to the project’s success, including a $25,000 grant for tools from the Fremont Community Foundation, and another $5,000 from the Fremont Area Big Give event. Now this year the class enrollment has doubled in size over last year, creating a need for more space and Fremont Contract Carriers answered the call by providing a bay and a classroom for the academy to use.”   

Reaching high school students

For the academy to be a success, high school students must be interested in the program. To generate interest, efforts have been made to reach students at the beginning of their junior year. By informing them of the program, what it entails, and the career opportunities for diesel techs in Fremont, more students have chosen to embrace this career pathway with each successive year.  This year both the academy and the fall class have filled up. “Todd Hansen, director of the MCC Fremont campus and MCC’s recruiters were instrumental in getting the word out to students and school counselors about this opportunity,” stated Barb Pierce with GFDC.

As an added benefit to students, they can enter this program for their last two years of high school and attend classes from 11:30 to 3pm allowing them to still participate in high school extracurricular activities. Once they graduate high school they can then enter MCC and be able to earn their official degree in just one year, where it typically would have taken two. This creates an immediate opportunity for students to reduce the expense associated with earning their degree, while also being able to enter the job market faster which is a bonus to the industry partners as well.  Local businesses in need of diesel technicians are also encouraged to reach out to MCC for an opportunity to meet these students. You can contact Instructor, Kevin Ingalls, at kmingalls@mccneb.edu or 531.622.5823 to discuss opportunities to meet his students.

Long-term impact

The Fremont Diesel Career Academy is poised to have a long-term positive impact on the economic growth of the area. Fremont businesses will have a new talent pipeline as many in the industry are nearing retirement. And having a reliable source of talent to access means businesses can plan to expand operations.  Simultaneously, area high school graduates will have the opportunity to build a sustainable, well-paying career in their hometown. As more graduates stay in Fremont, the community will continue to grow, creating opportunities for all our citizens. In this way, the Fremont Diesel Career Academy is an important step in growing our community from within.

Spread the word

We encourage all community members to spread the word about the Fremont Diesel Career Academy and to encourage high school students they know to check it out.  They can get in touch with MCC for more details on cost and credit earned through the program or talk to a high school career counselor.

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