Essential employees have been trained at A-B Tech for decades. This year has proven how vital they are. Community colleges are helping to keep this country moving during a global pandemic by preparing students for growing careers.
Graduates in Emergency Services and Allied Health programs such as EMS and nursing, have been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic.
Careers that aren’t always thought of as essential include construction workers, HVAC servicers, chefs, accountants, and many others.
Here are profiles on these essential jobs that can be started at A-B Tech for a new career. Learn more at Explore, Apply and Register.
Zachary Craig McMakin, Construction Management Technology student
I have worked all through the pandemic. Before the shutdown, my boss and I talked about what we should do as a company if there was indeed a shutdown. We decided that we would leave the decision up to the workers. If they wanted to work through, they were welcome to, but if they they were worried about their health or the health of their family, they were welcome to stay home with no repercussions or judgment. After the shutdown happened, there was 1 employee that decided to stay home, and my company took steps to help him get unemployment. We made sure to provide all employees with masks and encouraged them to use them long before they were required.
My company got pretty busy when the actual shutdown happened. We do remodels. With people able to stay home and be available to have workers in their homes, there were a lot of inquiries, literally overnight. And Once the stimulus checks started arriving in the mail, the phones rang even more and really haven't stopped. I feel very lucky.
As far as feeling safer, I know that my line of work is much safer than health care, but I never really have felt overly safe on the majority of my jobs. Especially at places like hardware stores. Now that there is a mask mandate, i feel a bit better about being out and about.
Some of the houses we worked in were not lived in, but the majority of them were, so we do our best to help keep our customers safe by wearing masks whenever they are present. But we also ask them to do the same and to please let us know if they have any symptoms or if they have been in contact with someone that tested positive. People have been very receptive and respectful of us as workers.
Samantha McGlone, Baking and Pastry Arts certificate
Samantha McGlone worked as a nurse for 15 years before realizing that the goodies she baked and delivered to patients often brought more joy than the medicine she delivered. So in 2017, at the age of 38, she quit her job, decided to pursue a life in baking, and enrolled in the Baking and Pastry Arts program at A-B Tech.
“I saw how food healed people and nurtured people in a different way than medications did,” she says. “I knew I wanted to make a difference in a different way.” McGlone discovered a true passion when enrolling in a course that taught her how to bake bread. From baguettes and dinner rolls to croissants and danishes, “I just get so emotional about bread,” she says. “When you pull a croissant out of the oven, and see all of the layers and smell the butter, I just love it.”
McGlone’s original plan was to pursue an Associate degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, but when an internship at Gateaux Pastries and Cafe in Hendersonville turned into a full-time job, she knew she had found a home. A-B Tech had given her the launching pad to start a new career and, just a few months later, she received a certificate from the school.
After several happy months at Gateaux, where she indulged her passion for bread, McGlone now works as a pastry chef at The Red Radish, a successful catering company in Black Mountain. “It’s great, I really love it,” McGlone says. “I just feel very grateful for where I’m at.”
Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning is a critical industry during a pandemic according to Department Chair Richard Gibson. “COVID-19 has highlighted its importance,” he said. “Consumers have seen firsthand how crucial the links in the country’s food supply chain can be. In addition, they have relied on the efforts of medical personnel to ensure their safety as they navigate these unprecedented times. Experts in refrigeration and air conditioning have been instrumental in both of these areas.”
Refrigeration is the major link in food supply across this country and has been since the early 1900s when freezing or refrigerating food was utilized for long term use of these products.
People often assume that air conditioning is utilized merely for a user’s comfort. However, air conditioning is critically important in a hospital setting. It is used in hospital operating rooms to control germs and bacteria that may grow as a result of the surgery.
The refrigeration and air conditioning industry was already in an employee shortage crisis before the pandemic hit. The average age of a technician working in the field is 56 which means that the shortage will likely increase as these technicians retire. “As a partial solution to these problems in the local area, contractors are hiring students after one semester of coursework and then allowing them to take night classes to fill the gap in their education. Local contractors are turning down work or not even bidding jobs because they don’t have the workers. Positions are everywhere that need filling in Refrigeration and the Air Conditioning in this state and local area,” Gibson said.