Sutton discusses LBW apprenticeships, partnerships with local businesses

Published 9:15 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

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LBW Community College Director of Workforce Development Chad Sutton discussed building partnerships and apprenticeships with local businesses at the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce’s Connection Breakfast on Tuesday.

“One of the things we like to do at LBW is customized training. We like to work with businesses, work with them, assess their needs, and develop a training plan specifically for that. Anytime you’re talking to a business and hear them asking about this problem or they want to solve what they’re working on, we can bring instructors in and work specifically on their needs. We have done that with several businesses in the area already. One of the ways we can pay for that is through a grant called the Alabama Workforce Stabilization Plan,” Sutton said.

He added that the AWSP federal grant is 100 percent reimbursable.

“All of a business’ training needs can be paid for 100 percent. There is a little bit of paperwork and some adult head testing because it comes from the Department of Education. It’s available for businesses in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, IT, transportation, or construction. Municipalities, trucking companies, hospitals, and trucking companies, and engineering firms are taking advantage of this grant to up skill their work force. The grant will also help pay for new hires during training at $9 an hour for up to 200 hours.”

There is also a request for CDL training in the customized training.

“LBW can provide the coursework for CDL training, and we handle the road portion as well. We’re working with several businesses that have employees wanting to add CDL to their toolbox. Several businesses have Class A and Hazmat endorsement. At least half a dozen people have come from the school system to get their CDL licenses, which is working really well,” he said.

The junior college is currently developing registered apprenticeships. “We have some programs at LBW that are some of the strongest in the state. We have a registered apprenticeship in Mechatronics, Diesel Mechanics, and recently, LPN and RN Nursing, which we are really excited about. We’re on the cusp of a Welding apprenticeship.”

Sutton feels apprenticeships are undervalued both locally and nationally.

“The apprenticeable occupations are endless and huge with thousands of them. When you have the opportunity to invest in a person, you can recruit and train them how you want them to work at your facility or place of business and retain them. Studies show people who go through apprenticeships or internships stay in the place where they trained 90 percent of the time. When students see a business investing in them while in college and training, that takes it to another level. The registered apprenticeship is a game changer to that business and the community as well.”

According to Sutton, LBW has a great partnership with Shaw for the mechatronics apprenticeship. “They speak very highly of it and are the only business I know where they do not have a spot open in their maintenance department. It’s because of the apprenticeship where they are able to train these students as they come up, and I think that’s pretty important.”

Mellisa King catered an assortment of savory and sweet breakfast foods for the event.

The Chamber’s next Connection Breakfast is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 25, and will be hosted by the Pilot Club of Andalusia.

“It was a joy to listen to Chad Sutton speak at this morning’s Chamber Connection Breakfast. Chad is passionate about his work, and listening to him speak about how he is connecting the future workforce with employers in our community is captivating. LBWCC is making huge strides towards being our ‘community’s college.’ We are so thankful for all they are doing for our area and for their involvement with the Chamber. Thank you to LBWCC for hosting the breakfast, Mellisa King for catering the amazing food, and to Mary Ann’s for the beautiful floral arrangements,” said AACC Executive Director Laura Wells.

For more information about LBWCC’s Workforce Development Department email Chad Sutton at or call 334-881-2335.