There’s always something new at Autry Technology Center as the school stays abreast of the latest needs of employers — and the training needs of students.
Teri Holle, director of business and industry services at Autry, said the school’s mission to provide training that puts students to work — and keeps their skill sets marketable — means the school always is looking to know the latest employment needs and trends.
“The interesting thing about Autry is that about 30 percent of our programs are new each year,” Holle said. “But we also offer some of the oldest training programs, because we have to meet their basic needs.”
Companies have to consider the needs of current employees and those of the future, Holle said. Autry works to fill both.
“I think the biggest trend we are seeing is the trend toward virtual training and immersion training,” Holle said.
Virtual training involves use of simulators, such as truck driving simulators and welding simulators.
“Virtual training is the training as close to reality as you can get using technology,” Holle continued.
Although equipment is expensive, the school has found ways to collaborate with others to offer virtual training. For example, when virtual technology was needed for heavy equipment operation training, Autry formed a consortium with several entities in Oklahoma to obtain grants to purchase virtual training equipment. Autry can then lease the equipment as it needs it for student training.
Thus the school’s heavy equipment operator training is new for 2011.
“It’s more cost effective and more green,” Holle said.
Immersion training is when students are trained in the environment they will be working in instead of a classroom.
Autry works closely with area employers to help them address current and future needs, Holle said. Faced with an aging work force, companies want to be prepared for the time when key employees retire and others will have the opportunity to move up in the company.
“We’re seeing a trend in which companies are seeking to do succession planning,” Holle said.