Kenworth Sales Company President Kyle Treadway was recently on a tour of Salt Lake Community College’s new Westpointe Workforce Training & Education Center when he decided his company needed to invest in the students who will soon be training within 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,’” says Treadway, who announced last Thursday at the Kenworth Sales facility in West Valley City that he is donating $400,000 to Westpointe. “I could see that it was a serious facility geared toward current technology – and that’s what we are lacking.”
Treadway says there is a national shortage of diesel technicians, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that show 67,000 Baby Boomers retiring from the industry on top of a projected 12 percent growth within the next decade that is creating a need for 75,000 new diesel technicians.
“We are in a crisis, and this is an investment to try and solve that,” he says. “I could hire 45 technicians right now, today.” Within three or four years of attaining a one-year diesel technician certificate from SLCC, Treadway says, the best technicians can be earning an annual salary in excess of $100,000.
SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin echoes Treadway’s call for other industry leaders in Utah to partner with programs at Westpointe that are also engaged in workforce development.
“I have to say thank you, from the bottom of our heart at Salt Lake Community College,” Huftalin says. “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.’”
The school says the funds could be earmarked for additional equipment or scholarships for students attending classes at Westpointe, a $43 million, 121,000-sq.-ft. facility that will open this fall.
Treadway and Huftalin add 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. Today SLCC, several school districts, the State of Utah and industry partners have been educating and training students who are still in high school to prepare for relatively high-paying jobs upon graduation or soon after. Treadway says the donation to Westpointe will not solve Utah’s or Kenworth’s needs in “one fell swoop,” and that it marks the continuation of a relationship with SLCC.
“It’s fantastic. Anytime you invest in students, you invest in the future,” says Rick Bouillon, SLCC associate vice president over Workforce and Economic Development. “We’re excited. It’s going to help students not only from a scholarship standpoint, it will help us round out the incredible facility at Westpointe. Ultimately, if we help a student, it helps their family, and it helps the whole community.”
Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, comprehensive community college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Home to more than 60,000 students each year, the College is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs. SLCC is also the largest supplier of transfer students to Utah’s four-year institutions and a perennial Top 10 college nationally for total associate degrees awarded.
The school says it is the sole provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area, with multiple locations, an eCampus, and nearly 1,000 continuing education sites located throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Personal attention from an excellent faculty is paramount at the College, which maintains an average class size of 20.