Tractor_517croppedBy Amy King, Communications Manager for NCCER The heavy equipment operations training program at Central Arizona College (CAC) started in the mid-1970s and is one of the college’s oldest courses of study. The state’s mining, agriculture, highway and construction industries provide countless job opportunities for skilled heavy equipment operators, and this high demand coupled with CAC’s superior training is making its graduates a hot commodity. Located in Coolidge, Arizona, CAC has been an NCCER Accredited Training and Education Facility for heavy equipment operations since 2012. The CAC training program is run through a partnership with NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor Arizona Builder’s Alliance (ABA). With the guidance and support of ABA’s sponsorship, CAC’s instructors are not only teaching construction theory, but also applying hands-on experience to develop a knowledgeable and competency-based workforce. CAC employs two full-time instructors who teach the NCCER Heavy Equipment Operations curriculum. Class size is limited to 15 students, so with two instructors, the program has a total of 30 students each semester. Because students must learn how to operate such complex machinery, the training is designed to give them plenty of seat time, and CAC tries to maintain a ratio of 20 percent classroom learning to 80 percent hands-on training. This combination allows the students to quickly apply the lessons they have learned in the classroom with performance tasks out in the campus’ 20-acre operations lab. One of the major benefits of training at CAC comes from the fact that the school owns its own fleet of heavy equipment. From motor graders, scrapers and front-end loaders to bulldozers, dump trucks, backhoes and excavators, the program gives students the chance to become proficient in operating all types of heavy equipment. Moreover, the program maintains a close relationship with the local Caterpillar dealership, so the school receives regular donations of the latest heavy equipment technology. Since there is a pressing need for heavy equipment operators trained on the most modern machinery, the partnership proves beneficial to both CAC and Caterpillar. By receiving training on such a diverse array of equipment, graduates of CAC’s heavy equipment training are qualified for a myriad of job opportunities. Most students enter the program assuming they will end up working in either the state’s copper mines or doing road construction. However, the demand for heavy equipment operators extends across a wide range of other fields, such as forestry, agriculture, land management and railroads. There are so many opportunities for CAC graduates that even with full classes and a 100-percent placement rate, many jobs still go unfilled. Cover with titleFor the rest of the story, read the Sponsor Spotlight article in NCCER’s Cornerstone magazine.

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.