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Funding resources available through Skills Training Division

Jarahdre Jackson is a welding student in Gadsden State Community College’s Skills Training Division.

Gadsden, Ala. – Gadsden State Community College’s Skills Training Division offers a variety of programs to those who want to upgrade their skills or become better-trained employees.

“The Skills Training Center provides a hands-on approach to give students the experience they need to be valuable employees,” said Baisha Woody, director of Skills Training.

The Skills Training Division offers short-term, non-credit training through its center located on the East Broad Campus. Though federal aid isn’t available to Skills Training students, there are other funding resources available. Students can attend Gadsden State thanks to funding provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. WIOA is offered by Alabama Career Center, an organization that recruits, trains and empowers a highly-skilled workforce driven by business and industry needs.

“WIOA has been a wonderful option for our students” Woody said. “The Anniston and Gadsden Career Centers have played an integral part in motivating our students to use WIOA to acquire an education in a trade that will jumpstart their career.”

Alvin McMeans is just one Gadsden State student taking advantage of the funding resources available for skills training courses.

“It has been an awesome experience and life changing to be a student at Gadsden State,” he said. “I have recommended it to several of my friends.”

McMeans, a truck driving student, said he learned about the Gadsden State Skills Training Division after visiting the Anniston Career Center.

“I was there because I needed to get a job to support my family,” he said. “Career center counselors told me about WIOA and the programs at Gadsden State. It has afforded me a way to start a new career. Now, I have turned my life around, and I’ve started a new pathway. Everyone can learn a skill.”

The Truck Driving Program at Gadsden State teaches students to drive trucks and buses, delivery vehicles and other commercial vehicles. Successful completers earn a Class A Commercial Driver’s License. Classes begin every six weeks and are 240 hours. Documents required to participate in the Truck Driving Program include proof of Department of Transportation Drug Test, a motor vehicle report and a Department of Transportation physical.

Katelyn Martin, a truck driving graduate, is happy she chose to enroll at Gadsden State.

“I looked into all of the CDL program options, and I found out that Gadsden State is a six-week program, which was the best fit for me,” she said.

The Skills Training Division offers a variety of certificate options that help students become trained and employable upon completing the program. Woody said Gadsden State’s Welding Program is a high-demand option.

“The Welding Program prepares individuals to unite or separate parts by heating, using a variety of techniques and equipment such as brazing, arc, gas and labor operations,” she said. “WIOA is also available for this program.”

Current welding student Jarahdre Jackson chose the program because he was in search of a unique opportunity.

“I just wanted to do something different,” he said. “I thought I would try out welding after I became eligible for WIOA. The program and the WIOA funding led me to Gadsden State.”

In addition to having programs that could lead to high-wage, high-demand employment, the students agreed that the Gadsden State’s Skills Training Division also has top-notch instructors.

“I needed a job to make ends meet quickly,” Martin said. “Without my instructor, Charles Hanshew, I would not have moved along the program as well as I did. He is an amazing teacher.”

Jackson also has had a positive learning experience.

“My instructor Blake Shankles is great and helps me out a lot,” he said. “Every day I learn something new.”

Welding and truck driving are not the only programs offered by the Skills Training Division. Other programs include Air Conditioning and Refrigeration; Auto Body; Certified Nursing Assistant; Electrician Assistant, Machine Trades, and Office Careers.

Another funding source for skills training programs is Empowering Families Scholarship through the Children’s Trust Fund, which is managed by the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. Visit to find a career center to assist with the funding process. Potential students are invited to visit to determine which program is of interest and find out more about the eligibility requirements.