AC to offer hands-on learning program

The CEO Council for Amarillo College’s Earn & Learn program held a news conference Oct. 1 at AC’s Washington Street Campus to kick off the new hands-on learning initiative.


Staff Reporters

Business leaders from the Amarillo community gathered at Amarillo College’s Washington Street Campus Oct. 1 to announce the Adams Earn & Learn Program. This new initiative focuses on providing students with hands-on training with the local businesses while obtaining college credits. 

Jerry Rohane, the CEO of Western Builders, said he is grateful for the new program, which he called “a great asset to build our workforce for years to come.”

Jorge Ramirez, an architect with Höhe Design Group, said the program will give students a stepping stone to acquire skills within their career fields.  “There is nothing more important than a competent worker who already has the knowledge and skills they have attained compared to another who is starting off with no experience,” Ramirez said.

Both Rohane and Ramirez are members of the Earn & Learn CEO Council, a group of local employers who have committed to providing work based learning to 10,000 AC students by 2030.

Toni Gray, the AC executive director of workforce development, said she is excited about this new opportunity for students and the Amarillo community. “It’s going to be huge eventually,” Gray said. 

The Earn & Learn Program will be a partnership between the college and local businesses. “We work with employers, the student applies through AC, we look at the areas they are interested in and then we screen and pick the top applicants,” Gray said. “We will then send our top applicants to the employers and let them interview the students for hire.”

There are multiple advantages for students in this program, such as hands-on learning. “It will be easier to find a job when you are already working for someone,” Gray said. “Also if you do a great job, they may want to hire you after you finish.” The employers will benefit from “growing their own” workers, Gray said.

Students are reacting positively to the new initiative. “It is important to get real world experience and this program helps students get experience as well as credit,” Isabelle Bruce, a general studies major, said.

Roy Guillen, a West Texas A&M student and an intern at AC, also said he thinks this program will be valuable for students. “Depending on the subject, it is easier to learn hands-on because you are actually doing the field work,” he said.

Applicants for the program do not need to be current AC students. “At this time, we are requiring students to complete an online application and submit materials including a resume,” said Reagan Hales, the AC associate vice president for innovation and work-based learning. “The process will be highly competitive for the pilot cohort so coursework or prior work experience may help differentiate one candidate from the next.”

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