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FMI to end sponsorship of Occupational Training Center in Thatcher

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FMI to end sponsorship of Occupational Training Center in Thatcher

By Todd Haynie

THATCHER, AZ—The recent economic downturn and reduced employment needs contributed to the decision by FMI to withdraw its sponsorship of the Occupational Training Center (OTC) in Thatcher. The program has provided training in the areas of Diesel Technology, Industrial Plant Technology, and Electrical and Instrumentation Technology. Over the four years of the program, OTC students completed 70 associate of applied science degrees and 194 occupational certificates, with approximately 70 additional students expected to complete degrees and certificates in May.

“This partnership has helped EAC fulfill its workforce development mission,” said Mike Crockett, EAC Dean of Instruction. “The OTC successfully demonstrated a reproducible strategy for future collaborations with FMI or other employers as the need arises.”

“Freeport-McMoRan appreciates the leadership and cooperative efforts of the College since 2006 in providing these educational services to members of the community,” said David Rhoades, Morenci General Manager and Jamie Davis, Safford General Manager, in a joint statement. “We believe the results of the Program have not only benefited Freeport-McMoRan but also the community at large.”

The Center began offering three, one-year certificate programs. EAC and Freeport officials quickly realized a need for additional training and a second year in the program was added giving students the opportunity to complete an associate of applied science degree in their vocational area.

Students accepted into the competitive programs were given scholarships covering full-time tuition, program fees, and books. A paid internship was also included giving students hands-on, real-world training at one of the Freeport mine sites in Morenci and Safford.

The successful model, which was developed as a collaborative effort between EAC and FMI, was replicated at two other sites in the state at Gila Community College in Miami and Yavapai College in Chino Valley.

“The OTC instructors have done an outstanding job of training new technicians,” said Crockett. “Going forward, the College is committed to providing coursework for current OTC students to complete their degrees.” The future of the programs is under consideration.