According to SLCC, Kenworth Sales president Kyle Treadway was on a tour of the new center when he decided his company needed to invest in the students’ training at the Westpointe diesel technician program.
“I saw their commitment and said, ‘I can get behind that. I can commit when I see that there are others going in the same direction,’” Treadway said. “I could see that it was a serious facility geared toward current technology – and that’s what we are lacking.”
Treadway and SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin said the donation is part of a larger statewide effort to address a lack of skilled labor in Utah that includes investing in the Utah Diesel Technician Pathways program, which began in 2016. According to Treadway, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 67,000 Baby Boomers are retiring from the industry on top of a projected 12% growth within the next decade – creating a need for 75,000 new diesel technicians.
“We are in a crisis, and this is an investment to try and solve that,” Treadway added. “I could hire 45 technicians right now, today.”
SLCC, several school districts, the State of Utah and industry partners in the Pathways program have been educating and training students who are still in high school to prepare for relatively high-paying jobs upon graduation.
“I have to say thank you, from the bottom of our heart at Salt Lake Community College,” Huftalin said. “A $400,000 gift. That is not a small step – that is a gigantic leap in terms of an industry coming to the table and saying, ‘We are investing in the future.’”
According to SLCC, the donated funds could be used for additional equipment or scholarships for students attending classes at Westpointe. The $43 million, 121,000-square-foot facility will open fall 2018.