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Free OTC Program Teaches Students a New Trade

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A collaboration between Ozarks Technical Community College and the Missouri Career Center will send dozens of newly minted graduates on their way this Friday with a new trade under their belts.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A collaboration between Ozarks Technical Community College and the Missouri Career Center will send dozens of newly minted graduates on their way this Friday with a new trade under their belts.

What's more, tuition for this program is free because of a grant. 

The MO WINS project is paid for by a grant from the Department of Labor.

Students attend class four or five days a week in a much more concentrated format than a regular higher education class. Organizers say that's the point; to get people to work as quickly as possible. 

 "I feel good,” says 46-year-old Kevin Bailey.

Bailey says the MoWINS program is giving him a new lease on his professional life.

"Before this, I was an EMT, paramedic and worked odd jobs, worked at sawmills mostly, laborer, I've had no college up until now,” says Bailey.

Now, Bailey is days away from graduating in his program. The people in his class put their skills to work constructing a Christmas display with a moving Santa Claus in a kayak and a penguin popping out of a chimney. 

"Industrial Maintenance Technology,” says Bailey, explaining the program. “We learn the basics of hydraulics, pneumatics, fluid power. Everything from wiring an outlet to programming a computer PLC."

Bailey says he'll have something he's never had before.

"A trade, having a skill,” says Bailey. "For a better job, more secure employment."

Which is a big goal for the program, says Matt Scott, the MoWINS program advisor.

“The whole point of the MoWINS programs are to quickly get students trained and in to jobs,” says Scott. "The big financial benefit to the student is that they don't pay tuition at all for the program. They pay for the fees and books."

Scott says there is both a health care track and an industrial maintenance track. 

"The great thing is we haven't had to turn anyone away from these programs,” says Scott. “You have to fall into one of five categories. You're either a veteran, you're unemployed, you're under-employed, you're low skilled or you're part of the Trade Act program." 

Bailey says he and 60 or so other students are days away from their bright future. 

"Bringing jobs to the community also requires the community to be prepared for those jobs in the factory,” says Bailey. "Some people in the class have already heard about jobs from interviews, I have my resume in.  I, myself, am going back to school in the spring to work toward an associates degree."

OTC is still recruiting for this tuition free program in January. 

You can find out more about this program by calling 417-447-2622 or visit the link above.
 
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