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Ingram State, Four Star Freightliner announce inmate apprenticeship program

Students in the program will be trained to repair and maintain diesel engines, and can obtain full-time employment through a work-release program.

Four Star Freightliner’s Jerry Kocan and Ingram President Annette Funderburk add their signatures to documents establishing the college’s first apprenticeship program. ISTC Diesel Mechanic students will hone their skills at Four Star as part of this inaugural agreement.

State officials behind a program aimed at training incarcerated people in Alabama on how to repair and maintain diesel engines say doing so will reduce recidivism and train them for full time jobs. 

Ingram State Technical College, through a two-year partnership with the Alabama Department of Corrections, Montgomery-based Four Star Freightliner and the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship, began offering Alabama’s incarcerated that training opportunity on Tuesday, the college said in a press release. 

“The apprenticeship agreement marks a new level of opportunity for our students,” Ingram president Annette Funderburk said in a statement. “We could not have asked for a better industry partner to help launch this initiative than Four Star Freightliner. Their commitment to our students and our mission is unparalleled.” 

 Participants in the program can complete college courses and earn lab credit hours as apprentices through Four Star Freightliner.  Students in the program can transition to full-time employment through the Alabama Department of Corrections’ work release program, according to the release. 

 “I am grateful for everyone at Ingram State Technical College, state leaders, and Four Star Freightliner for persevering and making this apprentice program a reality,” Jerry Kocan, president and general manager at Four Star Freightliner, said in a statement. “Now that students are back in the classroom, we can finally begin the process to help them transition to a well-paying career that includes skills that will carry them far into their future. Four Star Freightliner is proud to be a community partner that can provide these students such a unique opportunity. Our goal is to provide a “hand up” and a chance at a great career that will sustain them.” 

 Students who complete both the program of study and the apprenticeship can then become full-time employees at Four Star Freightliner through the state prison system’s work release program. 

 “We see Alabama’s incarcerated population as an untapped resource for the state’s employers like Four Star Freightliner,” Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner John Hamm said in a statement. “This apprenticeship aligns perfectly with ADOC’s mission of rehabilitation through training. Inmates learn valuable skills that help them succeed once they reenter society.” 

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 “By providing returning citizens with high-value skill training, we will simultaneously help reduce recidivism and help the employers of our state meet their critical workforce needs,” Alabama Office of Apprenticeship director Josh Laney said in a statement. “It takes tenacity and vision to launch a program like this and our partners at Ingram State Technical College and the Alabama Department of Corrections are demonstrating they have both.” 

 In addition to college credit, students can earn OSHA safety and forklift certifications, according to the release. To take part in the program, students must have a high school diploma or GED, and must maintain minimum-community custody level in accordance with Alabama Department of Corrections policy.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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