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The Future of Technical Education

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In the fall of 2011, Virginia Technical Institute (VTI) entered into a one-of-a-kind relationship with Liberty University (LU).  Recognizing the value of technical education, LU officials engaged with VTI to provide trade training to their four-year degree-seeking students.  Utilizing VTI’s state-of-the-art facilities and an internationally recognized curriculum from the National Center of Construction Education and Research (NCCER), LU began offering elective credit in the areas of Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, Welding, and Carpentry.

The first cohort of 16 students ranged from art majors to industrial engineering majors.  This initial group of 16 grew to 127 students in just one semester.  Since the program inception, VTI has trained over 400 LU students using the NCCER curriculum.  Current classes include a unique blend of traditional VTI students, Liberty University students and craft professionals seeking a credential.

Liberty University’s respect for those professionals holding NCCER credentials is such that they now offer transfer credit for NCCER credentials.  Craft professionals who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree using LU’s convenient on-line delivery system may be given credit for NCCER credentials up to 31 credit hours.  Thanks to LU’s world-class online curriculum, those same professionals can earn their degree without ever leaving the jobsite.

Students participating in the program are in high demand from local industry.  VTI and LU placed several students in paid summer internships during the summer of 2012.  Each of these students was offered some level of continuing employment opportunity.  Participating companies included Georgia Pacific, Fleetwood-Goldco-Wyard, Southern-Air, and Moore’s Electric.

Four traits make the VTI program distinct. First, instructors emphasize a hands-on learning atmosphere where testing is treated as a learning opportunity and not simply an assessment procedure.  Second, by utilizing the curriculum developed by NCCER, students receive internationally recognized credentials ensuring their competiveness for craft jobs all over the globe.  Third, this all takes place in a state-of-the-art, 75,000 square foot facility.  Finally, students intensively train only in their intended craft.  There are no other educational distractions or demands.  Students have the ability to concentrate on training for their future career.   With plenty of space, real-world training equipment, and classroom emphasis on his/her area of training, most students are work-ready in less than a year.

Virginia Technical Institute’s mission is to meet the growing need of workforce training in Central and Southside Virginia.  VTI provides hands-on training in a variety of fields including Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC, Welding, Carpentry, and Industrial Maintenance.  VTI also offers contract training in the areas of Industrial Safety/OSHA Certification, and Leadership Development.