COVINGTON — To address the shortage of workers in advanced manufacturing jobs across the region, six industries in Rockdale, Newton and DeKalb counties have signed agreements with Georgia Piedmont Technical College and 10 student apprentices.

The agreements, signed Dec. 14 in Covington, signify the beginning of a three-year commitment that will include both technical classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

GPTC worked closely with regional employers, Rockwell Automation and community partners to develop a U.S. Department of Labor registered program that is designed to support apprenticeships in high-demand industries such as mechatronics. Using an earn-while-you-learn model, the program and training costs are funded entirely by the American Apprenticeship Initiative Grant.

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“Our industry partners expressed concerns regarding a lack of highly skilled mechatronics technicians in the region,” said Dr. Irvin Clark, GPTC’s vice president of economic development. “Through the leadership and work of an advisory board that consisted of manufacturing industry partners, technical experts from Rockwell Automation and David Bernd and Serra Hall Phillips from the Newton County Industrial Development Authority, GPTC has successfully launched the first cohort of the Georgia Apprenticeship Mechatronics Track program.”

Apprenticeship program partnership industries include Thermo Pac in DeKalb County; SRG Global and Verescence in Newton County; and Golden State Foods, Haver and Boecker, and MGM Products in Rockdale County.

Using the industry-standard Rockwell Automation curriculum, the program will teach the fundamentals of mechatronics — a field that incorporates mechanics, electronics and computer science with manufacturing to increase efficiency. Participants will gain experience in core competencies including motor controls, automation, blueprint reading, and functions of electrical and electronic systems.

Introductory courses in mathematics and employment skills began in November in a hybrid format. Fundamental equipment training will continue through both online and hands-on, on-campus lab instruction at GPTC’s Newton Campus locations.

For additional information regarding the GPTC Georgia Apprenticeship Mechatronics Track program, contact Dr. Irvin Clark, vice president of economic development, at 404.297.9522, ext. 1829, or

Established in 1961, Georgia Piedmont Technical College is a student-centered institution that prepares individuals with the skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. GPTC’s graduation rate for academic year 2019, as reported by the Technical College System of Georgia, was more than 70 percent, and its graduates secure employment at a level resulting in a 92.2 percent in-field job placement rate and a total placement rate of 99.8 percent. Georgia Piedmont Tech’s Adult Education program for GED test preparation and English as a Second Language classes is the second largest in the state. The college has seven learning centers in DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties and also specializes in customized business and industry training and workforce development through its Economic Development and Continuing Education division. Learn more at

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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