The announcement of a Toyota-Mazda automotive manufacturing facility to be built in north Alabama is creating renewed energy and purpose throughout the KTECH classrooms and lab. Toyota and Mazda revealed January 10th they will build a $1.6 billion dollar production plant in Limestone County to open in 2021. The new facility is expected to employ 4,000 workers. KTECH students are well-trained to compete for the coveted jobs.
Launched in 2016, KTECH, a workforce training initiative of the Kids to Love Foundation, teaches students Mechatronics, a highly sought after skill set in the advanced manufacturing trade. KTECH is not only poised to support Toyota-Mazda, it has a track record to prove its relevance in the automotive industry.
“The automotive manufacturing environment is the focus for KTECH training and certification,” says Ed Brunner, Lead Instructor for KTECH. “Our students are trained to be systems/Mechatronics technicians in the advanced manufacturing environment specializing in the troubleshooting and maintaining of systems involving electrical, mechanical, fluid power, and PLC controls.”
KTECH boasts a 100% completion rate for its students, and 93% of graduates have passed the Siemens Certification test. “The skills taught at KTECH are exactly what the automotive industry is looking for in positions in the manufacturing plants,” says Dorothy Havens, Director of Workforce Development for KTECH. “Whenever I talk to those in industry, their number one concern is finding good people. Our KTECH students are the total package for employers. Plus, students are drug free, which is a requirement in most manufacturing industries.”
KTECH offers 16-weeks and 6-months course completion options, putting students on the fast-track toward a career. The accelerated learning is not the only characteristic that sets KTECH apart from similar curriculum at local colleges. KTECH also teaches students soft skills such as healthy living, financial literacy, public speaking, interviewing, and integrity in the workforce.
“Industries are requesting KTECH students and are impressed with their performance,” says Havens. “Companies invest in KTECH to cultivate their needed workforce and to sustain and strengthen the employment pipeline.”
KTECH is an extension of Kids to Love Founder and CEO Lee Marshall’s passion to meet the needs of children in foster care, especially those who are aging out of the system. Marshall modeled KTECH after the successful program at Motlow College in Tennessee. She saw KTECH as an opportunity to equip young men and women with a skill set so they could create a career instead of becoming a statistic of crime and poverty.
“Research shows 75-80% of Alabama’s prison population is made up of former foster children,” says Marshall. “We believe education is the best intervention, and that’s what KTECH is doing.”
Another hallmark of KTECH is its association with Siemens Corporation. KTECH is one of only two schools in the state of Alabama to qualify as a Siemens-certified facility. The Siemens certification is recognized world-wide and provides an excellent standard for employees to judge capabilities of KTECH students. Earning a Siemens certification allows students to jump-start
their career into potentially higher paying jobs.
“Our students are able to think, trouble-shoot and solve problems,” says Havens. “They know that you can’t Google everything, and through Siemens training they develop the critical thinking skills employers need.”
In addition to young adults in foster care, KTECH also serves U.S. veterans, under-resourced and non-traditional students. Students range from 17-56 years of age. You can hear inspiring stories of KTECH graduates on the Kids to Love website, www.kidstolove.org The site also lists more information on KTECH, as well as other programs and services Kids to Love provides. Kids to Love is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Incorporated in 2004, Kids to Love has impacted the lives of 225,000 foster children.