Affordability, Business Needs Drive Pulaski Tech Growth

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Jun. 21, 2010 12:00 am  

"So we see a lot of people who come in with the best of intentions, but for one reason or another, cannot follow through. And we recognize that as something that has to change. There's no easy solution."

Pulaski Tech has identified two areas it needs to focus on most: the developmental programs and tutoring and advising students, Jones said.

Challenges with the developmental programs relate "directly to the retention issue, because if you stumble out of the gates, the likelihood of success is diminished," he said.

In recent years the school has implemented several programs that are intended to increase student success. These include the Career Pathways program, which provides support to low-income students who have children, and the Network for Student Success, which primarily is aimed at helping young black male students stay focused and engaged on campus, Jones said.

Often, students will enroll at Pulaski Tech and declare a major in order to qualify for financial aid. But if their coursework qualifies them for a promotion at their current job or an offer of a new one before they complete a degree, they won't finish, which is reflected in the school's graduation numbers, Bakke said.


Welding Work

On a recent morning during the slower-paced summer session, Jones pointed out the welding shop as an example of how Pulaski Tech fills the need for skilled labor.

He mentioned some welding students who had finished at the end of the spring semester. Several of them now have jobs with Welspun Tubular LLC, a subsidiary of Welspun Corp. Ltd. That group, like many others at Pulaski Tech, was a diverse bunch.

One student was a 25-year-old woman who already had some professional welding experience. One was from Alexander and had just graduated high school and another was a 62-year-old refugee from Hurricane Katrina who had previously been a janitor. Now, two semesters and a professional welding certificate later, several from the group are earning up to $30 an hour, Jones said.

Graduate job placement can be tricky to measure, because so many students are already employed while in school, he said. Just how quickly they find work in their field of study depends largely on the demands of the market.

"We cannot graduate welders fast enough," Jones said.



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