Thursday, May 05, 2022

Ingram State and Four Star Freightliner announce inmate diesel technology apprenticeship program

Four Star Freightliner Dealer Principal Jerry Kocan (left) and Ingram State President Annette Funderburk review and sign agreements to start a new apprenticeship program for inmates seeking diesel technology careers.

Ingram State Technical College recently announced a new partnership with the Four Star Freightliner that will offer inmates in the state’s prison system diesel technology training and paid apprenticeships that will help them land jobs after completing their sentences.

Ingram State is an accredited member of the Alabama Community College System serving incarcerated students exclusively. It offers 18 career and technical programs through professional services and personnel that promotes activities to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and sustain fiscal accountability for the citizenry of Alabama.

The agreement, which was announced at a press event at the Ingram State’s main campus in Deatsville, Ala. on May 4, will benefit students enrolled in the diesel mechanics program and is the result of a two-year collaboration between the College, Montgomery-based Four Star Freightliner, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), and the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA).

“The apprenticeship agreement marks a new level of opportunity for our students,” said Ingram President Annette Funderburk. “We could not have asked for a better industry partner to help launch this initiative than Four Star Freightliner. Their commitment to our students and our mission is unparalleled.”

The apprenticeship is one part of a comprehensive program designed to prepare students for the transition from the classroom to the workforce. Participants will complete college courses and earn select lab credit hours as apprentices through Four Star Freightliner.

The apprenticeship program directly aligns with the prison to workforce pipeline where students receive a quality education, gain hands-on experience through on-the-job training, transition to full-time in-field employment through the ADOC work release program, and are released with the tools and skills needed to join the Alabama workforce.

“I am grateful for everyone at Ingram State Technical College, state leaders, and Four Star Freightliner for persevering and making this apprentice program a reality,” said Dealer Principal Jerry Kocan. “Now that students are back in the classroom, we can finally begin the process to help them transition to a well-paying career that includes skills that will carry them far into their future. Four Star Freightliner is proud to be a community partner that can provide these students such a unique opportunity. Our goal is to provide a hand up and a chance at a great career that will sustain them.”

During the in-field training, students will work with skilled professionals to maintain and repair diesel engines, as they would on the job. As they progress, their in-field hours will increase, enhancing their experience. Students who complete both the program of study and the apprenticeship will then become full-time employees at Four Star Freightliner through the ADOC work release program.

“We see Alabama’s incarcerated population as an untapped resource for the state’s employers like Four Star Freightliner,” said ADOC Commissioner John Hamm. “This apprenticeship aligns perfectly with ADOC’s mission of rehabilitation through training. Inmates learn valuable skills that help them succeed once they reenter society.”

“By providing returning citizens with high-value skill training, we will simultaneously help reduce recidivism and help the employers of our state meet their critical workforce needs,” AOA Director Josh Laney said. “It takes tenacity and vision to launch a program like this and our partners at Ingram State Technical College and the Alabama Department of Corrections are demonstrating they have both.”

Ingram’s 60-credit-hour diesel technology program includes training in preventative maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of engines, brake, and drive train systems. In addition to college credit, students earn OSHA safety and forklift certifications. Students participating in the program are required to have a high school diploma or GED and those coming from the prison system must maintain a minimum-community custody level in accordance with the ADOC Classification Manual.