Vatterott College is an Olivette, Missouri-based college system founded in 1969 specializing in career and technical training for students in the Midwest. The organization’s first NCCER Accredited Training and Education Facility (ATEF) came aboard in 2008. Since that time, the college has significantly expanded its use of NCCER curricula, now offering NCCER credentials at 10 campuses across five states and online.
As of May 2013, Vatterott employs a team of 59 NCCER-certified craft instructors to deliver its programs and has had approximately 3,500 students earn NCCER’s industry-recognized, portable credentials since becoming accredited. Vatterott’s construction training programs that incorporate NCCER curriculum include Building Maintenance, Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing, Welding, Wind Energy and Your Role in the Green Environment (offered online as a continuing education course). Vatterott’s construction craft training programs have graduation and hiring rates that meet and often exceed placement requirements set forth by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Currently, Vatterott’s craft training programs utilize the following NCCER curricula:
- Electronic Systems Technician
- Industrial Maintenance Electrical & Instrumentation Technician
- Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
- Wind Turbine Maintenance Technician
- Your Role in the Green Environment
According to NCCER Sponsor Representative Melissa Gaines, Vatterott incorporated industry-recognized credentials into its construction training programs because it recognized the demand for skilled workers in the industry. “There is a shortage of qualified individuals in the workforce, and a future need for trained craft professionals to replace the retiring baby-boomers. Additionally, this generation prefers to learn at an accelerated rate and work with their hands. The traditional classroom-based learning environment is not as appealing to most young people as it was 15+ years ago,” said Gaines.
Since accreditation, Vatterott has expanded and developed its programs and processes to include a number of innovative best practices, such as:
Industry Outreach and Partnership
Industry advisory boards for each of Vatterott’s craft training programs meet twice yearly to review training and update standards as needed. The individuals who sit on these boards represent a wide variety of organizations, ranging from local contractors and suppliers to large, national employers and government agencies such as FedEx and the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the college has received numerous equipment donations that have helped to defray the costs of equipment maintenance and replacement as a result of ongoing communication with industry.
At its NCCER accredited locations, Vatterott has also partnered with local chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). ABC registers students with the U.S. Department of Labor for Registered Apprenticeship, provided the student makes the appointment for an interview and meets documentation requirements. Through these partnerships, Vatterott students are able to earn NCCER credentials, get on-the-job training documented as part of a Registered Apprenticeship program and are entered into a pool of candidates to be considered for employment by local contractors. ABC students who successfully complete NCCER curriculum and a Registered Apprenticeship program are awarded full credit equivalent to Vatterott’s diploma program. ABC graduates are also permitted to enroll in Vatterott’s Associates’ Degree programs, and can earn degrees in as little as 30 weeks.
Through various community and education initiatives, Vatterott’s craft training programs have incorporated community involvement as a way to offer its students on-site job experience while also completing NCCER performance testing at no cost. As a component of its programs, Vatterott requires its craft training students to work with Habitat for Humanity at least one day per month.
In recognition of Vatterott’s contribution, the organization received the “American Dream Maker Award,” from Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity in Independence, Mo. Vatterott craft training students also took part in an Extreme Makeover Home Edition project in Joplin, Mo. in 2012.
In its on-campus facilities, Vatterott provides well-equipped, clean training rooms employing the most current technology. To help students understand how each craft affects the “big picture” of a project, instructor often employ projects that involve multiple crafts. Through this collaborative approach, each craft has its own stations where students perform their part of the project while individual instructors monitor them throughout the circuit. In addition to encouraging cooperative learning amongst students, this unique approach also maximizes efficiency for lab use and the performance testing required to earn NCCER credentials.
The NCCER Sponsor Representative has implemented an extensive, multi-layered evaluation system, including:
- Two student evaluations of instructors and courses per 10-week “phase”;
- Supervisor evaluation of instructors during each phase; and
- A complete, audit quality evaluation of each ATEF site at least annually.
This detailed evaluation process allows for more efficient collection of data required for NCCER annual reporting, and allows the Sponsor Representative to monitor, evaluate and improve program performance.
As is always advisable, Vatterott’s Sponsor Representative provides detailed guidance to newly certified NCCER instructors to ensure that they thoroughly understand their roles and responsibilities in the NCCER process. As such, she personally trains instructors to use the online training report form (Form 200) by providing written instructions, observing self-tutoring, correcting and working directly with instructors to demonstrate how she receives, approves, and forwards their forms to NCCER. This detailed process provides her with feedback on the utility of her instructor training processes and provides the instructors with an overall understanding of the credential submission process.
Vatterott’s craft training programs exhibit characteristics of a successful NCCER ATEF. The organization has exemplary record-keeping systems that are consistently applied throughout the campus system. The Sponsor Representative is enthusiastic and committed to complying with NCCER requirements, and has established multi-layered oversight systems to ensure that all campuses and instructors are aligned. The organization closely monitors the availability of tools and materials necessary for performance training and testing. Their training labs are extremely well equipped and kept in pristine condition, with the most current technology. Performance training is integrated into every class, and into community outreach activities (e.g. Habitat for Humanity).
When asked what advice she would give to career colleges interested in implementing NCCER training, Matthews noted the following as keys to success:
- Taking time to understand NCCER Guidelines and Program Compliance requirements;
- Offering initial training to instructors;
- Making sure all questions are answered from the employees concerning the process in a timely fashion;
- Reporting credentials after each course;
- Offering follow-up training to ensure that the NCCER process is understood;
- Developing a set of standards for timely credential submissions;
- Monitoring the ANR (NCCER’s web-based credential database)
- Developing relationships with the construction community; and
- Keeping records in order.