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Moving Talent Along Workforce Pipeline

Tristan Steagall, a senior at Coconino High School, demonstrated items he created as part of an engineering class in the Coconino Institute of Technology program at CHS. These included things like a prosthetic hand and forearm made with the help of a 3D printer, Virtual Reality glasses, and a device straight out of an “Iron Man” movie that fires a shot of burning gas.

“I wanted to show what it is to be in the classroom,” he said.

Steagall was among the 40 people who attended the fourth Coconino County Arizona @Work Business Services Team event at Coconino Community College’s Fourth Street campus on Oct. 30. Among those in attendance were students, teachers, employers, school administrators and community leaders. They were all there to learn about what is being taught in the schools, what kind of talent is available in the Flagstaff community, and how they can help.

“We’re here to enhance multiple pipelines,” said Brent Neilson, superintendent for the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology (CAVIAT) education district, which helped organize the event. “The goal is to keep this talent local through internship and employment opportunities.”

He added, “We’re a small county. We have to work collaboratively. We cannot do this alone.”

CHS and CCC automotive teacher Brian Locke listed off the certifications that students can earn without ever leaving Flagstaff – certifications that are in demand in the auto repair industry. He encouraged the businesses present to give the program a visit and consider offering internships.

“Come see the things we do,” Locke said. “Come get involved with our kids, because if you do, I can guarantee you they’ll say, ‘I want to work there.’”

Science and engineering teacher David Tessmer said the focus for students is to explore their creativity in the sciences and engineering and that “failure is a part of the fun.”

“When I get someone from engineering coming in, the students get excited,” Tessmer said, glancing over at Steagall. “This is the future.”

Steagall wowed the audience with his creations. He said he did much of the work in his free time because the CIT program inspired him to learn, and the skills he acquired will most certainly be applicable to any future jobs.

Ken Myers, a faculty member in the Construction Technology program at CCC, gave the local employers a rundown of the certifications the students can earn across the entire spectrum of the construction trades. He also updated employers about the Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) program, which virtually guarantees job placement – in apartment complexes, motels and hotels, commercial building maintenance – for the students who receive their certifications.

Tom Safranek, career exploration instructor and coordinator at Flagstaff Unified School District, spoke about a program that is nearing launch, called “CTE & Work Based Learning,” which is an attempt to connect high school students with internships and work experience. The program focuses on building a pool of skilled workers for the community; on reducing training, recruitment and turnover costs for employers; and on offering employers the chance to be involved in students’ education, according to information from the program.

Among the organizations and businesses in attendance were Northern Arizona University, FUSD, CCC, CAVIAT, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, Coconino County Public Works, Loven Contracting Inc., Block Lite, OVRLND Campers, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, City of Flagstaff and Axolotl Biologix. FBN

By Larry Hendricks, FBN

For more information about the CAVIAT program, visit caviat.org.


To learn about CCC, visit coconino.edu.


For information about FUSD’s College and Career Development program, visit fusd1.org/domain/55.


Larry Hendricks is the public relations coordinator for Coconino Community College.

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