Godwin Manufacturing, Harnett County Schools CTE Lead Workforce Development Session at the NTEA’s Work Truck Week 2024

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In Harnett County, businesses aren’t just entities operating within the community – they are integral partners in its growth and vitality. An example of this is Godwin Manufacturing, a family owned and operated truck equipment manufacturer located in Dunn, North Carolina, and their growing partnership with Harnett County Schools’ Career & Technical Education Program (HCS CTE).

In 2022, Pat Godwin, Jr., Corporate President of The Godwin Group, shared about a growing need in the Work Truck Industry with fellow members of the Harnett County Business and Education Partnership (HCBEP). The HCBEP, a private, non-profit organization, is composed of business leaders, educators, and parent volunteers who help students make informed education and career decisions.

Godwin, Jr. explained that The Association for the Work Truck Industry (NTEA), in collaboration with The Lincoln Electric Company and National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), had created the Work Truck Industry Welder Certification Program. The certification would be adopted as the credential for the Work Truck Industry and manufacturer and distributor companies that want to hire, train, and retain certified welders should consider implementing this welder certification training program. 

From there, Lindsey Hardee, Director of HCS CTE, encouraged Godwin to work with the HCS CTE program to develop a curriculum for students at Triton High School to help train and certify students in Harnett County. You can read more about the development of the LEEPS (Lincoln Electric Partner School) Advanced Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) program at Triton High School – the first program of its kind in the country – in this blog.

Fast forward to March 2024. Godwin Manufacturing along with HCS CTE, were asked to serve on a Workforce Development session panel at the Work Truck Industry’s Annual Show in Indianapolis, Indiana. The session titled “Exploring Ways to Maximize Your Talent Pipeline” focused on two unique approaches to workforce development and retention from industry leaders, The Godwin Group, and TBEI. Panelists included: Phyllis Godwin, Corporate Vice President at Godwin Manufacturing Company; Andy Cole, Agricultural Mechanics Teacher at Triton High School; Lindsey Hardee, HCS CTE Director Ron Weingartz, Corporate CWI/Weld Trainer at TBEI, Inc.; and session moderator, Tina Albright, Vice President of Human Resources & Safety at Truck Bodies & Equipment International Inc.

Phyllis Godwin, Andy Cole, and Lindsey Hardee spoke of ways that the business and education sectors have worked together to develop Harnett County’s existing workforce – specifically, their partnership to develop the LEEPS Advanced Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) program at Triton High School. 

“The LEEPS Advanced Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) Program prepares Harnett County students to weld – specifically for the NTEA’s industry leaders,” said Lindsey Hardee. “We are pretty lucky to have an NTEA industry trailblazer [The Godwin Group] in Harnett County with us!”

When asked about the return on investment since implementing the NTEA LEEPS program in the industry Hardee shared that the GMAW Program has been successful in the private sector and in the Harnett County School system. In fact, Andy Cole, Agricultural Mechanics Teacher who teaches the GMAW Program, currently has a waitlist for students to enter the program. 

When asked, “how can businesses get more engaged with their schools and communities to create similar programming and partnerships in their communities?” Phyllis Godwin shared that the Godwin/HCS CTS partnership was a “shoulder to shoulder” walk that has been taken at a pace that all were comfortable with. HCS CTE provided the education expertise but relied on Godwin Group to guide the program on industry expertise.

Hardee added that this industry and education partnership example is why CTE exists – to accept input from industry on what the talent pipeline needs to be successful. From there, CTE will develop curriculum, technical skills, soft skills, and credentialing to meet those needs. “We (industry and CTE) cannot exist without one another,” said Hardee.

Cole contributed firsthand knowledge from his time leading the program at Triton High School. “Godwin and Arc3 Gases provided equipment, consumables, and mentorship for the students enrolled in the program and continue to do so,” said Cole. He also encouraged those in the Work Truck Industry to reach out to their local CTE department and, if they have the ability, help to supplement programming through donations of mentorships or industry materials. Cole also shared that the NC3 platform – programming LEEPS curriculum is provided through – is extremely user friendly, making it a great fit for high school students.  

In addition to reaching out to their local public school district and asking for the Career & Technical Education department, Hardee added that industry should schedule some classroom or shop visits to tour the programming and meet the teachers, see the students engaged in hands-on learning. “Our teachers are the heart of our programming – they know our students best, including who shows potential in a given class or shop and who is looking for work,” said Hardee.

In addition to training, educating students within the classroom, and providing hands-on learning opportunities, there are other important components of CTE such as understanding CTE programming legislation. This includes a component of business and industry partnerships (CTE Advisory) in all districts receiving state and federal funds.

“In Harnett County, our CTE Advisory is the Harnett County Business Education Partnership, consisting of business, industry, HCS, and post-secondary partners,” said Hardee. “We strive to align our pathways with post-secondary (Central Carolina Community College, Campbell University, etc.) so our students have multiple points of entry and exit into the workforce (all learners will not pursue university degrees).”

For those interested in attending a meeting or joining the HCBEP should reach out to Lindsey Hardee or President, Clint Stanley. For additional resources, the North Carolina Chamber and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction have joined forces to develop a talent pipeline toolkit for businesses to utilize as an engagement resource. The toolkit outlines how to engage with your local school system to strengthen an existing partnership or form a new one.

About Work Truck Week

Work Truck Week is an annual event that serves as the ultimate destination for vocational truck and equipment professionals. Hosted by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), it offers a comprehensive platform for industry experts to gather and showcase the latest innovations, technologies, and solutions in the work truck industry. From heavy-duty vehicles to cutting-edge equipment and services, Work Truck Week provides attendees with invaluable networking opportunities, educational sessions, and hands-on experiences to stay informed and ahead in this dynamic sector. Whether you’re a manufacturer, fleet manager, distributor, or upfitter, Work Truck Week offers insights, connections, and resources to drive success in the ever-evolving world of work trucks.

About the NTEA

The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) stands as the leading authority in the work truck industry, uniting manufacturers, distributors, and upfitters under one comprehensive umbrella. With a legacy spanning decades, the NTEA is committed to advancing the success of its members through advocacy, education, and innovation. As the go-to resource for all things related to vocational trucks and equipment, the NTEA provides invaluable expertise, networking opportunities, and industry-leading insights to navigate the complexities of this dynamic sector. 

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