COURTLAND — Work and school will be the same for a few more Northwest-Shoals Community College students.
The college has partnered with International Paper Courtland Mill to offer cooperative education opportunities to students studying industrial systems technology at Northwest-Shoals.
Roger Garner, industrial systems technology instructor, said the arrangement allows students in one of the college’s newest programs the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience while completing the degree or certificate program.
Garner said the program also has co-op agreements with Pilgrims Pride and Forsythe & Long Engineering.
“It provides students with a pre-interview,” Garner said. “Otherwise, when you go into an interview you are just a sheet of paper. This gives them an opportunity to let the employer get to know them and see them at work.”
Students placed in the co-op program with International Paper will work three eight-hour shifts each week while maintaining a full course load at Northwest-Shoals.
Garner said the scheduling gives students a chance to prove their trade skills while also showing they possess intangibles such as promptness, professionalism and dedication.
The industrial systems technology program began in the fall 2011 semester, and enrollment has quickly quadrupled. Of the 10 students who were part of the inaugural class, eight of them have co-op placements, Garner said.
The program with IP should prove mutually beneficial, as students who complete the co-op program could be ready to accept full-time positions at the mill.
A news release distributed by IP said the program “is targeted at meeting the mill’s future maintenance workforce.”
“The continued progression of the manufacturing workforce is key to the future of the Courtland mill,” said Mike Gregory, maintenance and engineering manager at the mill. “The training and learning experience afforded by this program is tailored to qualify students in related fields with a competitive advantage when entering their field of employment.”
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com.