Newly trained HVAC professionals graduate from Alabama Power, Bevill State program
After 11 weeks and 295 hours of instruction, a group of eight from across Alabama have graduated from Bevill State's latest cohort of the HVAC Fast Track Program. The months-long course is a joint effort between Alabama Power and Bevill State aimed at training residents to meet the demand for professionals in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry.
The birth of the program dates back to 2017 when Bevill State expanded its existing partnership with Alabama Power to include the development of a 33,000 square foot, state-of-the-art HVAC training facility in Jasper. With more than 30 years of experience in offering HVAC training, Alabama Power's expertise in HVAC-related workforce development helped launch the program in late 2018. The HVAC Fast Track Program, initially called HVAC Boot Camp, is designed to provide participants with the "technical knowledge and skills to repair, install, service, and maintain the operating condition of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems." Course modules are taught by instructors from Alabama Power and more than 50 manufacturers supply the modern equipment and tools used by the students-in-training.
Enrollment in the program costs $4,500 and Alabama Power has made full scholarships available for minority applicants. Because of the accelerated pace of learning, students are required to attend on a nearly full time basis with spring classes running Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
During last week's commencement ceremony, Alabama Power's executive vice president of customer and employee services, Jeff Peoples, personally congratulated each of the graduates and affirmed the strength of the workforce development partnership with Bevill State.
“We’re proud to work alongside Bevill State...to provide students the necessary training to have meaningful careers in skilled trades,” said Peoples. “By working together on these workforce investments, we’re creating opportunities in Alabama communities and addressing emerging industry needs.”
"We have the opportunity now to work with a lot of technical schools across the southeast, from Virginia and all the way up into Illinois, and Bevill State is the absolute best," Peoples continued. "You don't have facilities like this everywhere or opportunities like this everywhere, and we have it right here at home."
Al Moore, Bevill State's Dean of Workforce Solutions and Economic Development, presented graduates with certificates of completion and their newly-earned EPA Section 608 Refrigerant Handling Certification. All graduates are now qualified to take the State of Alabama HVAC-R Contractors Exam.
The spring 2021 graduates are:
Jeffery Adair, Haleyville
Blake Carroll, Quinton
Joshua Cook, Birmingham
Cedric Davis, Pike Road
Eddie Kirkland, Pinson
Cheyenne Moore, Maylene
Carter Moorer, Hayden
Quilin Tarrance, Adamsville
HVAC technicians in Alabama earn, on average, roughly $41,000 per year. Industry leaders estimate that just over 230 additional HVAC jobs will become available each year in the state over the next three years.
Our360 News spoke with graduate Cedric Davis about his experience during the 11-week intensive training. Davis came to the program seeking to gain skills in what he called "a valuable trade."
Left to right: Program graduate Cedric Davs, Dean Al Moore, Bevill State President Joel Hagood
"Coming from a white collar profession, I didn't know what to expect. My first lesson was that HVAC work is far more complex than I realized. There's an electrical aspect, a plumbing aspect, a refrigeration aspect. Now that I understand the work, I have much more respect for the skills of professionals in this field," explained Davis.
Because the cohort for the program is small—only 8 students are accepted for each training cycle—students were able to work collaboratively within a close-knit learning environment.
"Since we were all starting from square one, we relied on one another for input and help throughout the process. There was a lot of information packed into 11 weeks, so we relied on one another; a group of us even went fishing together after class one day," Davis reflected. "The instructors also made it clear upfront that they would do everything they could to ensure all students understood the information presented in the coursework. And they lived up to that commitment. They supported us working in teams."
When asked if he would recommend the HVAC Fast Track Program to others, Davis was unequivocal, "I would recommend it 110%," he said. "There is job stability in learning a trade, there will always be a demand. And no one can take my knowledge of this trade from me. Now, I have to make the most of what I have learned. The program did a great job of preparing us, now my success is up to me."
The application window has closed for the summer 2021 class and selections are underway. Applications for spring 2022 will open in August.