MENA -- The University of Arkansas board of trustees last week approved the offering of technical certificates in paramedic and automotive/diesel mechanics, as well as certificate of proficiency in automotive/diesel mechanics, for the University of Arkansas Community College at Rich Mountain, starting in August 2024.
"We're responding to local needs," said Chancellor Phillip Wilson. With the high price of cars due to inflation, many people will keep their current vehicles longer, meaning "we're going to be repairing a lot more cars."
The paramedic technical certificate will build on UA-Rich Mountain's "growing Allied Health program" and utilize existing resources, such as a new EMT ambulance simulator and classroom, but will also require investments in faculty, medical supplies, course materials, and marketing, according to the proposal. New program costs are estimated at $485,000 over the first three years.
It will attract both "traditional and non-traditional students," five-10 annually, according to the proposal. The school expects to hire two new faculty.
The number of paramedics in the state is short of demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it will continue to be a "stable, high-demand position."
The automotive/diesel mechanics certificates boast faculty and equipment acquired through grants and employer donations, according to the proposal. Several area employers expressed interest in this offering after a commercial truck driving academy was brought to campus.
Area employers "will be happy to hear" the automotive/diesel mechanics programs were approved, said Krystal Thrailkill, provost/chief academic officer. "We already have an instructor ready to come on board and start recruiting students."
The college expects an average of 10 students annually over the first three years, with 15 more students as the program is added to concurrent career center offerings. No new administrative costs are expected for the program.
The new offerings will need to be approved by the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.