OFTC Resources Offered to those Affected by Husqvarna Closure
When Husqvarna, the largest employer in Telfair County, announced in January the closure of their production facility in McRae-Helena, Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) stepped in to help.
The College quickly responded to a request from the Georgia Department of Economic Development to participate in a response team made up of state and regional resources to assist the 1,000 plus employees who work within OFTC’s service delivery area (SDA) affected by the closure.
Other members of the response team included the Georgia Department of Labor, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)/Job Training Unlimited, and Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“As one of the largest employers in OFTC’s service area, this shutdown will drastically affect citizens in and around our SDA,” shared Kim David, Vice President for Economic Development at OFTC. “Providing training and education opportunities to these individuals at this time can be critical to many of the affected employees’ ability to seek employment with other companies.”
Pulling Available Resources
Through its Rapid Response Division, GDOL began to schedule a series of information sessions with OFTC and other members of the response team to connect the affected employees with available resources.
OFTC formed an internal task force made up of representatives from academic and student affairs, adult education, and economic development to identify areas where the College could assist those affected and presented this information to the Husqvarna employees at eight different on-site information sessions February 15 and 21.
“The purpose of the sessions was for the response team to provide basic information to as many employees as possible at one time,” David said.
Offering their resources to assist those who find themselves in this unsought situation, OFTC President, Erica Harden said the College’s main goal is to “provide hope.”
“Our hearts go out to the individuals and community that are affected by this plant closure and we hope to provide a sense of hope,” she said. “Our goal at OFTC is to meet the workforce needs of our communities through a student-centered, service-orientated approach and that is what we hope to offer those affected by this Husqvarna closure; and with a wide variety of programs on campus and online, we desire to serve and meet the workforce needs of the 11 counties we serve, including those affected by this plant closure.”
Opportunities for Education
One opportunity the Husqvarna employees will now have is to further their education through WIOA’s Dislocated Worker and On the Job Training Programs which allow federal assistance dollars to offset the cost to return to school by covering tuition and fees, cost of supplies, and providing daily stipends.
“We want to make sure these employees are aware of every opportunity available to them,” David shared.
So, in an effort to provide information on educational opportunities, OFTC developed a one-page fact sheet that highlighted the admissions process and available college resources and presented it to Husqvarna employees during each information session. OFTC representatives were also on site to answer one-on-one questions, accept admissions applications, and schedule testing.
OFTC also agreed to waive admissions and testing fees, added entry-level college courses to their spring c-term and upcoming summer semester, added additional Accuplacer testing dates and locations, extended adult education hours at the College’s Little Ocmulgee Instructional Center (LOIC) in McRae on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, and plans to offer non-credit, short-term training at LOIC as needed.
“While the closure is less than ideal for those employees affected, the opportunity for free or reduced college will provide them with a chance to gain knowledge and skills to become competitive in their field of interest,” shared Dr. Saketha Adams, OFTC’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “And with options of short-term programs that can be completed in a year or less and financial aid, there are some great opportunities for these citizens to take advantage of.”
And it doesn’t stop here. Husqvarna and GDOL have organized and scheduled on-site job fairs in March to connect employees to companies with current vacancies who are actively recruiting, David shared.
“OFTC instructors will also be on-site during these job fairs to provide information on OFTC programs and other opportunities for training to meet the skills needed to be employed in the areas these companies are recruiting for,” she added.
For more information about opportunities at OFTC, visit the College’s website, OFTC.edu.