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New Industry Apprenticeship Program at Parkland College
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New Industry Apprenticeship Program at Parkland College

Birkey's Farm Store partners with Parkland to train ag equipment techs

Parkland College and Birkey's Farm Store announce the launch of a new, nationally recognized apprenticeship program to train agriculture and construction equipment technicians.

As an expansion of Parkland and Birkey's decade-long partnership, the new Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program pairs formalized on-the-job training with technical coursework to help Birkey's develop more highly skilled employees, according to Derrick Baker, dean of Parkland's Career and Technical Education division.

"We are thrilled to be able to serve both Birkey's and our students through this new apprenticeship program," Baker said. "This kind of program is not only a cost-effective way to help employers recruit, prepare, and retain qualified technicians, but it also serves students by providing access to high-wage, high-skill, in-demand jobs alongside their educational training. And it does so in a way that values the skills and expertise of experienced workers as they pass on their knowledge to a new generation. It's a win-win, not just for Birkey's and the students, but for the whole community."

Newly registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program incorporates the college's Case New Holland (CNH) Service Technician Associate in Applied Science with on-the-job training and mentoring in Birkey's stores throughout Illinois and Indiana over a three-year period.

The program began this fall with 11 first-year apprentices and six second-year apprentices. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, graduates will receive a nationally recognized journeyworker certificate from USDOL in addition to Parkland's CNH AAS degree. Birkey's Director of Human Resources Curt Carter says the program will help the company reach important industry-based goals.
 
"Birkey's is always on the lookout for new talent to help ensure a strong future in the farming and construction industries," Carter said. "We want to do our part to enable the workforce by providing well-trained technicians to service our customers' equipment. The CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship is an exciting way to achieve these goals and provides apprentices the opportunity to become skilled technicians who have a bright, promising career ahead of them."

Parkland's 65-hour CNH program will prepare students to maintain and repair equipment used in Case New Holland, Case IH, and Case Construction dealerships. Heavily lab-focused, the hands-on training includes coursework in hydraulic systems, powertrains, electrical systems, fuel systems, service department operations, welding, engine theory and overhaul, and air conditioning.

CNH dealers who wish to participate can receive support and technical assistance from Parkland College, an approved USDOL apprenticeship intermediary, who will expedite the registration process with the apprenticeship agency. After registering, dealers can immediately enter employees into the Service Equipment Technician program. Next, dealers will identify master-level employees who are capable of and willing to mentor apprentices. Dealers will then identify potential candidates or incumbent workers who would benefit from the apprenticeship program and enroll them.

Birkey's Farm Store has served Illinois and Indiana since 1954 with product sales and support and a network of 17 locations and 400+ employees. The company, headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, owns and operates a network of full-service Case IH agricultural and Case construction equipment stores throughout Illinois and western Indiana. The Birkey's network serves the Illinois communities Annawan, Arthur, Bloomington, Casey, Galesburg, Gibson City, Henry, Hoopeston, Macomb, Mattoon, Newton, Oakland, Polo, Propheststown, Shelbyville, and Urbana, as well as Williamsport, IN.

For more information about the Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program, please contact Education Liaison and Recruitment Specialist Travis McClure at tmcclure@birkeys.com. Businesses located in Parkland's District 505 can contact Parkland Apprenticeship Coordinator Aimee Densmore at adensmore@parkland.edu.

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