First Class Graduates from Heavy Equipment Program

April 7, 2021 sdawkins Blog

DSC 0014 1CLANTON — The first graduates of Jefferson State’s Heavy Equipment Operator program, the first of its kind in Alabama, were recognized on April 1 at Jefferson State’s Chilton-Clanton Campus.

The industry-designed Heavy Equipment Operator pilot program is offered in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System and more than 20 industry partners across Central Alabama.

The program addresses the need for more certified construction and heavy equipment workers for infrastructure projects across the state.

“Alabama’s community colleges across the state are at the table with business and industry leaders to identify solutions to the state’s workforce needs,” said Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “The Heavy Equipment Operator program at Jefferson State is a prime example of identifying a need and working with industry to address it in a timely manner through a short-term training solution yielding qualified, certified students who are ready to work on day one.”

DSC 0018The new program is a 12-week training model that assists students ages 18 and older in obtaining three nationally recognized certifications for Heavy Equipment Operators while they train both inside a classroom and on jobsites with area employers. The inaugural class has been funded by the Craft Training Board of Alabama to complete the program.

“Working alongside our business and industry partners creates positive outcomes for everyone and we’re eager to expand on the success of this pilot program,” said Jefferson State President Keith Brown. “The Heavy Equipment Operator Program will increase the number of skilled operators to help meet industry demands and it will help individuals acquire valuable jobs to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

The pilot program is currently offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with hands-on training on Saturdays and Sundays to provide needed flexibility for individuals seeking to enter the construction industry. The curriculum is based on the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Soft Skills Training Certification, Wheeled Loader Certification, and Wheeled Excavator Certification. Industry feedback on the program design ensures that students who complete the program have the skills needed for immediate employment as equipment operators.

“As Alabama continues to develop the training needed for all jobs, both with academic and technical training, the trade skills gap continues to grow. As one generation begins to enter into the retirement age, another generation is not trained to fill those shoes,” said Chilton County Industrial Development Board Executive Director Whitney Barlow. “To address this gap, leaders must work together to find creative and expansive solutions to meet the needs of employers across the state. The pilot program at Jefferson State is a prime example of an innovative solution to meet local industry needs.”

The inaugural class of 12 students includes:

  • Christy Darty
  • Hunter Fulghum
  • Ethan Gregg
  • Don Johnson
  • Rudy Jones
  • Ambry Martin
  • James Newell
  • Richard Allen Ray
  • Richard Allen Ray Jr.
  • Mason Riley
  • Casey Thrash
  • Jordan Worsley

Jefferson State’s next Heavy Equipment Operator class will begin on May 25. For more information on this pilot program, visit