Matthew Painter never had much of an opportunity for employment before, let alone a culinary career.
The cost of personal trainer certification programs varies, ranging in price from $400 to $2,000, according to American Fitness Professionals and Associates. Prices fluctuate depending on the organization providing the certification, the certification level, the study materials and support offered, and the price of the certification exam itself. While many programs offer payment plans to help with financing, some may not include the cost of earning a CPR/AED certification, which is required for most programs and can add about $75 to the total cost of certification.
Minton also recommends considering the costs of personal training once one obtains a certification. For instance, self-employed personal trainers may need to rent space in a gym or fitness club to work with clients. Many trainers also invest in liability insurance, which costs an average of $1,735 per year for small businesses. Equipment, such as hand weights, kettlebells, yoga mats, resistance bands or portable speakers for music, can also add to potential costs should a trainer need to purchase equipment for client use.
Lastly, many CPT certifications require trainers to participate in continuing education courses, keep their CPR/AED certification up to date and pay certification renewal fees every few years, all of which can add significantly to the total cost of maintaining their certification. Some continuing education courses can cost several hundred dollars, and recertification fees can exceed $400.
It takes a lot of effort to become a pilot. For some aspiring aviators, acquiring the practical skills in the cockpit might be the biggest challenge, while for others, it is finding a way to pay for training. The regulatory paperwork and clunky government websites can also be a burden.
But many candidates find that even more difficult than mastering the art of operating an aircraft or filling out the complicated online forms correctly is finding a pilot examiner in a useful amount of time.
The US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) notoriously strained resources and well-documented staff shortages have created a serious bottleneck to pilot production at a time when US airlines are hiring record numbers of cockpit crew. As the industry scrambles to find more efficient ways to push more candidates through flight training, there are concerning deficits in the oversight of exams and those who administer them.
“Aviation is currently in high-growth mode, it’s at max thrust,” says Paul Preidecker, president of the National Association of Flight Instructors. “There’s a lot of training going on, and a lot of demand. And when the system is under pressure, that’s when you start to see the weaknesses.”
Central to every would-be pilot’s qualification journey are regular assessments, also called checkrides: rites of passage that lead a candidate from one certificate to the next. A checkride – consisting of an oral exam and a practical (flying) portion – can last anywhere between a few hours for a private pilot licence, and the better part of a day for a certified flight instructor certification.
Almost all exams – 98% – are conducted by experienced pilots selected and vetted by the FAA, called designated pilot examiners (DPEs), rather than the FAA’s own employees.
Not only is the industry desperate for pilots, but DPEs and their FAA supervisors – called aviation safety inspectors – are exceedingly scarce in this current hot market. Too often, pilot candidates must wait between several weeks to several months for an appointment to sit their checkrides.
“There are clearly not enough examiners,” Preidecker says. But the reasons for that shortage are complex, and the solutions are not straightforward. “In aviation we always strive for the black and white, but this question lives in the grey areas.”
David St. George, executive director of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators and himself a longtime DPE, concurs. “We’re not optimising the use of our DPEs and that’s creating a problem.”
The FAA’s website lists 1,139 DPEs qualified to conduct fixed-wing checkrides. But numerous entries are duplicates, and others are outdated or otherwise inaccurate. Industry insiders estimate the actual number is 800-900.
In addition, DPEs’ geographical distribution and their workloads are wildly uneven. According to flight training experts, about 40% of designees do less than 20 tests per year, while others – for whom testing is their full-time job – will do up to three every day.
The US regulator does not publish the number of checkrides conducted every year. But inferring from its publicly available airman certification statistics, the number of fixed-wing pilot exams conducted nationwide last year was likely over 200,000.
DPEs are assigned to one of the FAA’s 77 Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs). Each FSDO is operated “like a fiefdom or medieval village”, says one examiner, with its own rules, regulations and business practices.
The shortage of examiners is particularly acute in the southwestern USA – California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah – where flight training volume is high due to mostly favourable climate conditions allowing for year-round instruction. For some candidates, the nearest DPE is 250 miles (400km) away.
Currently, the Oakland FSDO – responsible for a large swath of coastal northern California stretching from San Francisco to Oregon – shows just two examiners qualified to evaluate airplane pilot candidates. Neighbouring San Jose FSDO, which covers western California from the Bay Area south to near Bakersfield, lists only three.
The Las Vegas FSDO includes a vast area of east-central California, southern Nevada and northern Arizona, and has just seven designees.
Flight school representatives say that is frustrating.
“It’s very difficult to get a [checkride] date locked in,” says Stefanie Hott, flight training advisor at All In Aviation, a Las Vegas-based flight school. The wait time for students can be six weeks, she says. Add weather, illness, or aircraft maintenance requirements into the mix, and those six weeks can quickly turn into a few months.
That said, the FAA notes that up to 25% of tests are over before they begin – and thus require a new appointment – because candidates arrive inadequately prepared, missing paperwork, lacking required experience or presenting incorrect instructor endorsements.
“It would be nice if the FAA had a streamlined system to book checkrides,” Hott says. “It would also be helpful if all DPEs could do more ratings.”
Those suggestions are also on the wish list of general aviation advocacy group Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which says it is “working directly with the FAA” on designee system reform.
The FAA did not respond to several requests for comment, information or data. The agency says only that it is taking “concrete steps to speed up certification applications”, without further explanation.
“The agency is committed to adding designated pilot examiners in the coming months and is reprioritising work to address a significant portion of pending applications by the end of fiscal year 2023,” it adds.
That prioritisation seems desperately needed.
John Ewing, a flight instructor and former DPE, first applied to become an examiner in 2008. He was called for an initial interview eight years later. The multi-step process to qualify, including online and in-person courses, proficiency flight training and observation, took about six months, and significant financial investment.
When he started in 2017, Ewing was one of the busiest DPEs in his district, conducting up to seven checkrides every week in addition to teaching and charter pilot jobs. He later scaled down to about four weekly.
“Being a DPE is hard,” he says. “It’s a difficult and trying job, and it can wear you down.”
Ewing voluntarily returned his designation earlier this year.
“I’ve had applicants who didn’t pay or disputed payments, complained about the cost, complained the test took too long. If an applicant is dissatisfied, they might try to take civil action against an examiner and examiners don’t have any explicit immunity from that,” he says.
He describes the DPE role as “like a contractor without a contract”. The FAA can designate someone, and can terminate their approval with or without cause, with or without notice. That job insecurity puts off many potential candidates.
Ewing’s account tracks with other reports of poor management at the FAA, sometimes described as an “old boys club”, where favouritism influences career paths – and examiner designations.
A source with FAA experience calls the agency “dysfunctional” and “toxic” – and that inevitably leads to high employee turnover. Better-paid, lower-stress jobs in private industry often prove more appealing.
“I had five managers in five years,” Ewing says. “Some of them were good, some not so much. DPEs are supposed to have at least one checkride observed every year. I once went three years without an observation.
“If you have a question or an issue, you’re often left on your own to use your best judgment to try to research and resolve it,” he adds. “That’s a pretty alarming state of affairs.”
A request to the FAA for comment on this specific statement went unanswered.
But there are exceptions. “I personally am in a wonderful FSDO that has supported me very generously over the 25 years I’ve been a DPE,” says St. George.
Another examiner adds: “If you have a well-staffed FSDO, and a responsive manager, it can make all the difference between whether your job is doable, and you feel supported and part of a team, or you’re out in the woods rubbing two sticks together trying to make a fire.”
And it always comes down to staffing.
“You can’t have a conversation with anybody about aviation without talking about the shortage of something,” Preidecker says. “The pilot shortage, the shortage of avionics technicians, shortage of air traffic controllers. You name the position, there’s a shortage of them.
“It’s the same in the FAA. The FAA has a shortage of people who should be overseeing that designee management system,” he says. If more designees were added (an estimated 1,000 DPE applications are pending – some for more than a year), the FAA “wouldn’t have the ability to monitor their activities”.
Though the FAA’s airman certification standards (ACS) clearly outline the knowledge, skill and risk management requirements for every checkride, that monitoring is vital. Instructors complain about irregular ACS implementation, and even examiners admit that day-to-day execution can be inconsistent.
“There is no uniformity among the examiners,” says an instructor from Arizona who requested anonymity. “I try to train every possible thing to prepare a student but sometimes an examiner likes to throw a wild curve ball. Some take issue if things aren’t done their way.”
“The standards are spelled out in the ACS, but this is where more FAA oversight is required,” says Preidecker. “We need more guidance without more regulation. Nobody wants to be micromanaged. On the other hand, if I have no guidance, I’ll have no standards.”
For the moment, with the nearly-thousand DPEs come “a thousand different FAAs”, adds Ewing. Some examiners are sticklers for detail, while others cut corners to squeeze in even more checkrides.
With the FAA’s oversight abilities stretched so thin, lapses do happen.
“The scary part of the DPE shortage is that people are doing what might be less-than-safe reviews,” St. George says. “I’ve talked to applicants whose oral [test] on their multi-engine checkride was 12 minutes long. That’s not even enough time to ensure that the aircraft is airworthy.”
It is no secret that flight training is expensive, and DPE-conducted checkrides add to that expense to the tune of $700-$2,000 per test, depending on the rating and the market. So for the full-time DPE, the more demand there is, the more lucrative the job becomes.
AOPA says it has heard of fees it calls “outrageous”, and has raised the issue with the FAA. But in this instance, the regulator has chosen not to regulate.
It does not take much digging to find social media posts asserting that large flight schools use their financial might to attract DPEs who want to travel. Above-market payment, cash bonuses, plus generous reimbursement of expenses appear common. These high-volume “pilot mills” promise DPEs an endless stream of candidates (and income) in a short period of time. That leaves students at smaller schools facing even longer delays, and even more expense.
“I’ve heard those rumours,” Ewing says. “When any examiner starts getting in bed with a large flight school with these kinds of arrangements, I think that’s a slippery slope.”
Experts agree that the problems are systemic, and they blame the FAA’s leadership deficiencies. Three of the last four administrators – including the current office-holder Polly Trottenberg and her direct predecessor Billy Nolen – have been in the role on an “acting”, unconfirmed basis.
As a result, the FAA’s managers tend to be very risk-averse, unwilling to take responsibility, or make and stand by tough decisions.
The fix, sources say, must start at the top.
AOPA has made recommendations to the agency which include removing DPEs who are “not fully supporting local needs or performing enough checkrides to warrant them taking a DPE position”, shortening the process from selection to approval, and transferring oversight to a centralised national-level office.
Some relief could come in 2025. The FAA Reauthorization Act currently winding its way through the US Congress pledges improvement.
It calls on the FAA to establish “national co-ordination and oversight of designated pilot examiners”, standardise policy, guidance and regulations, and develop a code of conduct for examiners. In addition, it requires the FAA to enable pilot candidates to schedule their checkrides “not more than 14 calendar days after requested”.
Those proposals would ease some of the burden on future pilots, but it is highly doubtful the regulator will have its staffing issues sorted by then.
In the meantime, the US pilot shortage continues.
“The FAA doesn’t have enough people, consequently, we don’t have enough DPEs, and at the same time we’re just minting pilots like you wouldn’t believe,” says St. George.
“It’s sort of the perfect storm.”
VALLEY CITY, N.D. (NewsDakota.com) – The City of Valley City police chief hiring committee has selected three finalists. Initial interviews were held with eight candidates on August 16 – 18. Additional interviews will be conducted with the finalists on Monday, August 28.
Sergeant Nicholas Horner, Valley City Police Department. Sgt. Horner is a life-long Valley City resident who has worked for the Police Department for 11 years, receiving promotions to Field Training Officer and then Patrol Sergeant. He is a graduate of Lake Region State College (AAS – Criminal Justice) and Valley City State University (BS – Career & Technical Education). Sgt. Horner supervises the local alcohol server training program and serves as the department Community Relations Officer.
Officer Sean Hagen, Valley City Police Department. Officer Hagen has worked for the Valley City Police Department for a total of 13 years as a patrol officer, Field Training Officer, Instructor, Patrol Supervisor, and for the last six years as School Resource Officer for Valley City Public Schools. Officer Hagen received a BS in Criminal Justice (Minor in Psychology) from North Dakota State University. He is certified as an instructor in Active Shooter Response, Ground Control and Spontaneous Knife Defense, has received a Life Saving award, and was named Officer of the Year in 2014. Officer Hagen has further served the Valley City community by helping to obtain a grant for school safety resources and equipment; serving on community focus groups for safety, mental health, and substance abuse; conducting school presentations; and participating in community improvement programs such as Check and Connect Mentorship for at risk youth.
Trooper Brett Westbrook, Minnesota State Patrol. Trooper Westbrook has worked for the Minnesota State Patrol for 19 years, and is currently assigned to the State Capitol Complex in St. Paul. He previously served as a patrol officer and Gang Unit Detective with the Arlington Texas Police Department from 1999 to 2004. After graduating with a BA in Spanish/Secondary Education from Bethel University, Trooper Westbrook began his career as a high school Spanish teacher in Wisconsin and Minnesota from 1996 to 1999. He has received numerous recognitions and awards with the Highway Patrol including Meritorious Service, Exceptional Service, Life Saving award, Commissioner’s award, Chief’s award, and Captain’s award. He has also been nominated as trooper of the year and officer of the year, and has received regional and national recognition for canine narcotics detection. Trooper Westbrook is actively involved in his local community, holding a substitute teaching license and coaching for the Pine City High School boys varsity hockey team.
Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Tony Grady has seen a lot of success throughout his life.
After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1977, Grady, who resides in Reno, spent the next 20 years climbing the military ranks and made history along the way. As a test pilot, he was among the first to fly the B-2 stealth bomber and was the head test pilot for the T-1A Jayhawk training jet, according to his campaign website.
Following his retirement from the military, he joined the shipping giant FedEx as a pilot and instructor. In 2000, he founded a biotechnology company, and more recently, has focused on being a motivational speaker.
Grady, 67, has his eyes set on a new venture: challenging Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., for her seat in the 2024 election. But before he does that, he’ll need to clear a growing field of at least seven other Republicans who’ve also entered the race, among them: former Secretary of State nominee Jim Marchant, former Army Capt. Sam Brown, and Jeff Gunter, a former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland under former President Donald Trump.
Grady finished second in the primary in the race for lieutenant governor behind eventual winner Stavros Anthony by about 13,000 votes. With a new race in mind, Grady recently sat down with the Sun to discuss his candidacy and what sets him apart.
“I was a military commander, a small-business owner, and I know how to use the full range of diplomatic, military and economic instruments of power to get results,” Grady said. “I have a unique skill set to navigate the hurdles ahead of us, and I’m ready to lead Nevada into a safe and prosperous future.”
Why are you running now?
I’m running for the U.S. Senate here in Nevada because I spent my career flying into challenges, not running from them. Our American dream is in a state of rapid decline. And we have absentee leaders like Jacky Rosen ... (who) are ill-equipped to provide our country with the course correction that it needs to take. We need stronger leaders.
What sets you apart from the other Republicans vying to challenge Rosen?
I just ask people to look at my skill set of being able to understand military strategy, understand diplomacy and understand economics, things that all people in the Senate need to act on in order to further the best interests of the American people.
In terms of diplomacy, my dad was in the Foreign Service and I grew up overseas. I saw what socialism and communism did to their people, namely rendering them in abject poverty. So I understand why their system is bad and we shouldn’t be taking on any of those characteristics in this country.
We don’t want to go backwards, we want to go forward. And we need to go forward with the things that will help our people and help the United States grow because this is the best country on the face of the Earth.
What are the issues you feel are most pressing for the country?
I’m very passionate about energy ... because it’s the basis of the supply chain. So when you strangle energy, everything increases, and the increase in inflation is strangling families in general, and particularly Nevada working families. So energy is huge. And so we need to do things that will enhance our energy. And also we’re in a dangerous position right now because our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is down. And if we were to have a countrywide disaster, our ability to deal with that is being threatened.
President Joe Biden has come under a lot of scrutiny — especially from Republicans — over the handling of the economy, and polls show many Americans feel the same way. What could you do as a senator to bolster the economy?
The economy is based on energy, so we’ve got to get the energy back up to speed. And the second thing that relates directly to an economy is that anything you tax, you’re going to get less of. So when you are taxing people who are innovative, it’s making it more difficult for them.
To get the economy going, we need to increase our energy resources to drive the cost down. We need to decrease taxes and decrease regulation so that the entrepreneurs and small-business owners that employ the largest number of people in our country can innovate and expand so that they can employ folks, and that will start to turn the economy around.
What balance should we take between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources to fuel the power grid?
It’s interesting that you don’t mention nuclear energy. When people say they are concerned about the environment, we should be focused on using nuclear fuels. And they’re virtually never talked about.
Instead of using the term “fossil fuels,” I like to use “conventional fuels.” What we should do is allow things to be head-to-head. One of our problems with the so-called renewables is that it can’t go head-to-head with conventional fuels. When the sun is down, you’re not getting anything out of solar, or when the wind doesn’t blow, you’re not getting anything from the wind turbines.
Texas is finding out, and especially California with its brownouts, that renewables are not ready for prime time.
I’m an advocate of anything that goes forward that increases our ability to use energy effectively. But in the United States, we can drill for oil better than anybody, cleaner than anybody else. And it’s kind of laughable when you have folks on the environmental side that continue to shut down conventional fuels while nations like China and India are still relying on coal, and other places all around the world. We live in one atmosphere.
Your website mentions that you’re a champion of family, and that you support the “sanctity and dignity of life.” Access to abortion has been a political lightning rod in recent elections, so, if elected, would you support legislation that would perhaps restrict access to abortion at the federal level?
Democratic President Bill Clinton once said that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, and we’re so far away from that.
I think with Roe v. Wade being overturned, we now have the abortion debate back where it belongs, in the states. And I think the states need to fight it out amongst themselves to determine what their position is on it.
Those people who believe in life will prevail in the states and have policies that their particular state can agree with.
But if you’re elected, and a national abortion ban was voted on in the Senate, how would you vote?
It depends on what the legislation is. My position is that I don’t believe in national legislation on abortion. I think that was the issue. That caused problems when you had the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade. I think the issue is down to the states now. So I can’t comment on what I would do on legislation right now because I’d have to read it and see what it says before I support it.
Is there a candidate seeking the GOP presidential nomination that you’re personally aligned with the most?
I would say no. And one of the reasons I would say that is when you’re running a Senate race, all of your energy is focused on running and winning your race.
This is a presidential election year, and the presidential (election) is going to be the undertow pulling things one way or another. I do not want my message to be clouded by whatever a presidential candidate may or may not say. I am running to be Nevada’s senator, and I want them to understand that I have the skill set to protect their best interests. So I am not a person that’s going to be pushing in the presidential race. I believe the (eventual) nominee will have the best ability to make that case to the American people.
Was the 2020 presidential election conducted freely and fairly?
I believe the 2020 election, just like it was written in the book, "Rigged," but I believe that laws were changed in the middle of the election cycle. Things that were illegal before the 2020 election, like ballot harvesting, all of a sudden became legal. So when you have things like that, it causes the electorate to be suspect.
I think there were issues with the 2020 election, and I think it’s very clear one of the major ones was that the Hunter Biden laptop (story published by the New York Post on Oct. 14, 2020) was misinformation. We should call it propaganda because that’s what the real term is. There’s some polling that suggests up to 13% of the electorate might have changed their vote if they knew the Hunter Biden story was true. Things like that, I believe, are why people think the 2020 election is suspect.
Editor’s note: Grady seems to be referring to a survey from the conservative watchdog Media Research Center, which found approximately 1 in 6 voters, or about 17%, who cast a ballot for Joe Biden would not have voted for the current president had they known about details reported by the New York Post. That survey contacted 1,750 people from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, though a fact-check from The Washington Post suggested those results were misleading.
CORRECTION: A previous version stated Grady said the 2020 election was rigged. He was referring to Mollie Hemingway's book "Rigged." | (August 16, 2023)
Matthew Painter never had much of an opportunity for employment before, let alone a culinary career.
The 39-year-old Waynesboro native, who once dreamed of becoming a youth pastor, spent almost 17 years of his adult life behind bars, checking in and out of prisons throughout southwestern and central Virginia. Prior to winding up at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, he briefly worked for a moving company, but that was it.
And yet, this past summer, Painter and four other men at ACRJ somehow pulled off an entire tasting menu worthy of a team of restaurant chefs.
As newly minted graduates of The Phoenix Program, a culinary training course that operates out of the prison, the dinner held on June 28 gave them a chance to demonstrate the skills they had acquired through the six-week program. Friends, family and community leaders were invited to partake in the festivities, which culminated with a graduation ceremony.
The program participants huddled around a long folding table set up in the prison rec room, as they put finishing touches on their dishes. Their instructor, Charlottesville chef Antwon Brinson, coached them from the sidelines. “Communicate with one another,” he reminded the men. “And reset your stations.”
Throughout the meal, they took turns presenting course after course of skillfully plated fare. A crostini of grilled summer corn, then a Caesar salad crowned with parmesan tuille. Next a thyme-roasted chicken nested over barley risotto. And lastly, a sourdough bread pudding lavished in crème anglaise. Not the kind of food one would expect to find in a prison basement.
“This is fine dining right here,” a satisfied guest declared as the dinner concluded.
Painter couldn’t have been prouder. “I definitely went in cooking in the microwave,” he said. “Now I’m able to cook just about anything, I would think.”
The Phoenix Program began in 2019, in partnership with the city of Charlottesville’s Office of Economic Development and ACRJ.
Brinson came up with the concept after working with a number of previously incarcerated individuals through existing workforce training programs offered by his company, Culinary Concepts AB. What he had seen were folks who faced so many rejections and setbacks after their release, often because of their incarcerated status, that, by the time he met them, they were discouraged from even trying to pursue a serious culinary career.
“(They) would only go to the really low-end restaurants for employment because they thought that they weren’t good enough to be able to get jobs in the nicer restaurants,” Brinson said. “And there was nothing I could do about that because that feeling in their mind already existed.”
What if, he wondered, they brought the same training into the prison? That could do more to erode those barriers, even the playing field for those individuals, and empower them with the skills and the mindset critical to their success before going home.
Additionally, it might supply them a clearer path forward, mitigating the risk of recidivism that, in Virginia, lands at least 1 in every 5 people back in prison within three years of their release.
The first round of Phoenix Program graduates was a group of women at ACRJ. COVID-19, unfortunately, derailed it, along with all other in-person programming offered by the prison. But Brinson and ACRJ program director Olivia Dillon were finally able to get things back up and running in 2022. Painter’s cohort is now their third graduating class.
A handful of individuals are chosen each year through a formal application and interview process. The ideal candidates are ones with scheduled release dates that coincide with the timing of the program. (All but one of the men in the latest group are slated to return home in the next six months, according to Dillon.)
Program participants meet three times a week, from 4 to 9 p.m. Led by Brinson, every session begins with classroom instruction, followed by hands-on training in the prison kitchen after normal business hours. Like Painter, folks generally do not go into the program with a culinary background under their belt.
The program is, in part, vocational. Students master techniques and learn their way around the kitchen, well enough to earn two nationally recognized culinary certifications by the conclusion of their studies, which hopefully will make them more employable. But it also includes a mix of life coaching and personal therapy.
“Our program is inclusive; it’s a conversation,” Brinson explained. “And through that conversation, the curriculum is kind of woven in between.”
During the sessions, Brinson pushes students to self-reflect and hone other life skills, like goal setting, teamwork, problem solving, communication and time management, while identifying their core strengths. The goal is for those coming out of the program to gain confidence in themselves to realize their own potential, both in the culinary field and in life.
“I really want people to think differently about how they can achieve success in their own lives — through hospitality,” he said.
Beyond simply laying the groundwork prior to their release from incarceration, Brinson and his team also build a bridge for Phoenix Program graduates to cross once they do leave ACRJ.
Culinary Concepts AB, through relationships it has cultivated with businesses in the greater Charlottesville area, connects graduates with job opportunities in the hospitality industry, many of which would not exist without the backing of Brinson’s organization.
“I sit down with all of the employers that we have as partners. ... I’m very clear on our mission and what we’re trying to do,” Brinson said. “And the employers that work with us, they get that. They believe that. And they’re all about creating equitable opportunities.”
Thanks to him, there’s now a diverse and expansive network of employers committed to hiring previously incarcerated individuals — from traditional restaurants to bakeries, university dining halls to catering companies, retirement community kitchens to social clubs. This, in turn, allows those individuals to find jobs tailored to their strengths, where they can actually flourish.
Program participants, upon their release, are encouraged do short internships, called “job trails,” with three or more of these in-network employers, which are individually curated. Sometimes the experience works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But the idea is that, by the end of it, they will find something that’s right for them.
Brinson’s program does not just benefit the people who participate in it. It also benefits the businesses they end up working for.
Virginia Secretary of Labor George “Bryan” Slater, who first connected with Brinson at a local workforce development board meeting and attended the Phoenix Program graduation dinner as the evening’s keynote speaker, estimates that there are currently more than 300,000 job openings in Virginia. A significant proportion are in the areas of restaurant, lodging and travel.
“They’re having a hard time finding and keeping people,” he said. “It’s a significant shortfall.”
According to the results of a National Restaurant Association survey released in December, 56% of restaurant operators in Virginia report that they do not have enough employees to support their businesses; 79% report the existence of vacancies that have been hard to fill.
Plans are already underway to reproduce the Phoenix Program statewide, beginning with Richmond. Most recently, on Aug. 4, Culinary Concepts AB announced a new partnership with Hatch Richmond, an incubator for local food and beverage businesses. And Brinson intends to use this to start establishing a network of Richmond-area employers to support the program’s expansion.
There has been some interest in eventually bringing the program to other states as well.
“I genuinely believe, once we get Virginia locked down, we have the blueprint to be able to take this national,” Brinson said.
For Brinson, helping folks get their lives back on track is something that is deeply personal to him.
Though the chef later went on to become a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and a semifinalist on HBO Max’s “The Big Brunch,” Brinson started out in life as the child of a single mother in the small town of Niagara Falls, New York. There, he quickly fell in with the wrong crowd, left home as a teenager and got into trouble with the justice system.
“The people we looked up to, they weren’t athletes. They were the guys on the block,” Brinson recounted. “So naturally, coming up, those are your role models, you get pulled into the streets. And I had a hard road growing up.”
It was only after getting arrested again on gun charges at the age of 17 and facing up to 25 years in prison that he personally decided to make a change.
“I was like, if I’m able to get through this, I’m going to take whatever I got left and I’m going to put myself through college. I’m going to do something with my life,” Brinson said. “And by the grace of God, I overcame that situation and I made it out.”
Most of his childhood friends weren’t so lucky, he added. “Everybody else is either dead, they’re still there, or they’re locked up.”
At the dinner event earlier this summer, Phoenix Program graduates attested to the impact that the training already had on their lives.
“I’ve got a clear goal of what I want to accomplish. And this man has given me the path,” said Billy Ross, a graduate hailing from Bristol, as he pointed to Brinson. “These stripes don’t dictate me.”
Phillip Guiles, another graduate, spoke of personal growth and learning to cope with hardship. “The things I’ve learned in this program have changed my outlook on life,” he shared with the group.
As for Painter, who was just released from ACRJ in July, the program has granted him a newfound sense of hope and determination.
“It means everything to me because now I have somewhat of a foundation to get out and stand on,” he said. “I’m willing to go out there with an open mind and just do whatever it is that I need to do to make my future brighter and make my future better.”
Justin Lo is the Times-Dispatch dining critic. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @justinsjlo.
Rather than focusing on finding and hiring technicians in a competitive environment, Cox Automotive Mobility creates its own by recruiting them, then training them at one of its two FleeTec Academy locations. One is in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the other in Phoenix, Arizona.
HDT had the opportunity to visit the FleeTec Academy in Indianapolis and learned how it all works directly from Terry Rivers, senior manager of vehicle services training, Cox Automotive Mobility.
After military service, then many years of service work and even sales, Rivers started an academy for technicians in New York. Cox later bought Rivers’ company and asked him to come on board to start what is now FleeTec Academy.
One key way FleeTec Academy is different from other technician training programs is the time commitment. Rivers said that many colleges and technical schools want technicians to complete two, or maybe even four years of education. It can be $70,000 and years later before a technician can turn his or her first wrench for pay.
FleeTec Academy’s approach is to find the right candidate, then provide the training, support, and tools needed to launch a new career.
“What they do here is they take guys who have never been mechanics before and they make them into mechanics,” Rivers said.
Rivers shared the story of meeting a young man, the son of a Cox Automotive technician. He told Rivers that he had always wanted to be a diesel mechanic like his dad. Rivers asked why he never followed that dream.
The young man, who had been a 4.0-GPA student in high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, simply explained “They didn’t have scholarships for that,” recalled Rivers.
FleeTec Academy does not require students to take on debt, and there is no scholarship needed in the traditional sense. That same young man completed the academy and has now worked as a tech for Cox Automotive for four-and-a-half years.
“He's one of our best techs. He's been a Top Tech; he's absolutely amazing,” added Rivers.
The new students arrive at FleeTec Academy and for four weeks learn how to do preventive maintenance on vehicles.
“Every minute of every day is accounted for the whole time they're here,” Rivers said.
Students are earning a paycheck as soon as they start the academy. They are paid throughout the entirety of the 16-week program, which includes a six-week internship in a Cox automotive shop, and have a job to step into when they complete the training.
Rivers said based on what he has seen over many years, the two main pain points in fleet maintenance are electrical and wheel ends. But that will not be a problem for FleeTec Academy graduates.
“When you go around this academy, you'll see a lot of wheel-end trainers and a lot of electrical trainers," he said. "It has been a weak point for 25 years and we don't want it to be ours.”
Rivers explained that once they are done with the academy and working, the new techs are mostly autonomous, have their own customers, and within about four months will be “just shy” of the average productivity of the more than 1,400 technicians already working in the company.
“So, they're by far not an A tech, they're probably a mid to low C-level technician and they'll work their way up to a B, or an A with more advanced work," Rivers said. "When it comes to the C-tech responsibility, their efficiency, daily revenue, and productivity are pretty parallel with the rest of the company."
Cox Automotive has removed another barrier to entry that might keep some from becoming technicians. Typically, to acquire the needed tools would take a large sum of money for an aspiring tech.
At FleeTec, not only are they paid during training, but they are also provided with all the tools they need. They walk away with $20,000 in tools that are theirs to keep if they stay with the company for two years.
“They're free and clear after two years of service to us. If we haven't done our job and earned their loyalty, shame on us in those two years. But most of the time, they stay,” Rivers said.
FleeTec Academy does not want to simply take people who are looking for a job.
“Job is an acronym for Just Over Broke," Rivers said. "We want someone looking for a career."
The Cox interview process usually can tell the difference between those just looking for work, and the career-minded candidates that will stick with the academy and the career, he said.
According to Arthur Lon, senior director of talent management, Cox Automotive Mobility recruitment is focused on recruiting three types of candidates:
After the techs complete FleeTec Academy and begin work, they are eligible for more than $22,000 in bonuses and incentives per year, such as:
The Cox Mobility technicians, in their first year, also receive 31 paid days off plus seven paid holidays.
For ongoing advanced training after techs are on the job, the academy has an Advanced Mobile Training program that takes the training to the techs.
When Rivers joined Cox, he said,, the approach was to bring about 450 mechanics to Indianapolis for a week of advanced training. But taking 450 mechanics who each generate $1,500 per day away from work is very costly. It turned out to be far cheaper to send the trainer to the techs.
“Instead of taking them out of the field, instead of them flying here, our instructor flies there. So, it's only one guy traveling instead of 450,” he explained.
Once the instructor is on-site, the training is condensed into just two days instead of five.
Fowler explained that the national average for technician retention is about 50%. He points back to the days when he said it was “taboo” to try to recruit a technician from another company but said that is fairly common now.
FleeTec Academy creates a steady flow of new fleet maintenance technicians for Cox Automotive, eliminating the need to go out and recruit from other employers. At Cox Automotive, retention is around 75%, according to Rivers.
Aug. 11—Navy personnel, family, friends and community leaders gathered in the hangar at Naval Air Station Meridian's Training Air Wing One on Friday to bid farewell to Capt. Robert Lanane II and welcome aboard Capt. Juston Kuch who assumed the role of commodore.
After more than 25 years of service, Lanane retired from the Navy following the ceremony's change in command.
The morning ceremony opened with the parade of colors, the singing of the national anthem by retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Terry Pankhurst and an invocation by chaplain Carl Scroggs.
Following the invocation, an airborne change of command took place in which Lanane, flying one jet as the outgoing commodore, and Kuch, flying a second jet as the incoming commodore, passed by the hangar in front of the crowd.
Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Richard Brophy presided over the change of command.
"Today's ceremony represents the lineage of war fighters for passing the responsibility of one commander to another," he said. "This iron clad handoff is vital because our mission is fundamentally rooted in combat as we uphold the Constitution against all enemies."
Brophy lauded Lanane's time as the Training Air Wing One commander saying his foresight and proactive approach has been indispensable in implementing creative ways for training and taking care of naval aviators, as well as championing revolutionary improvements to intermediate and advanced jet training.
"His efforts, among others, has resulted in Training Air Wing One continuing to produce the most competent, capable aviators in the world who are prepared to meet tomorrow's challenges on the battlefield. For this you have my most sincere gratitude," Brophy said.
Lanane, who earned his wings of gold at NAS Meridian in 2001, took over command of the air wing in August 2021. During his tenure, Training Squadrons Seven and Nine delivered more than 53,700 flight training sorties with zero mishap flight hours in the T-45 Goshawk. He led the air wing to qualify 53 instructor pilots, designate 227 Navy and Marine Corps strike aviators and wing 35 international military officers.
This is not the first time for Kuch, who was raised in Indiana, to be in Meridian. He was commissioned through the Officer Candidate School at NAS Pensacola in October 2000 and earned his wings of gold at NAS Meridian in January 2003.
He initially trained in the F/A-18C Hornet and deployed aboard the USS John F. Kennedy with Strike Fighter Squadron 34 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and then aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln for a deployment to the Western Pacific.
In March 2007, Kuch reported to Fallon, Nevada, and completed Navy Fighter Weapons School, more popularly known as Top Gun, and became a strike fighter tactics instructor. He deployed aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in August 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and later served two more deployments in support of the operation.
He is a graduate of the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island, where he earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.
His previous assignments have included the Joint Staff J-6 Directorate at the Pentagon, executive officer and commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 34 and deputy commodore for Task Force 63 in Naples, Italy.
Brophy said the Navy couldn't be happier to have Kuch serving as commodore of Training Air Wing One.
"The work of our training wings is crucial for the defense of our country. Our nation needs a strong Navy like never before which requires a continued supply of naval aviators in order to fill the open cockpit seats left behind by those whose watch has ended," he said.
Contact Glenda Sanders at email@example.com.
Santa Clara, Aug. 22, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Santa Clara, California -
Santa Clara, CA-based Interview Kickstart is helping software developers across the nation get ready for the toughest tech interviews at the most prestigious companies in Silicon Valley.
Since it was established in 2014, Interview Kickstart has helped over 15,000 aspirants secure positions at some of the biggest and most sought-after tech companies in the nation such as Amazon, LinkedIn, Uber, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Oracle, Goldman Sachs, Adobe, Salesforce, Intuit, Qualcomm, Atlassian, and more. The company’s alumni report an average hike of 66.5% in their salaries after completing its courses, translating into a range of increases of around $75,000 to $200,000. For more information visit https://www.interviewkickstart.com/blog/how-do-i-know-if-im-ready-to-interview-at-faang.
The company’s StepUp and LevelUp courses are interview prep programs for students to learn the skills they need for cracking tech interviews at FAANG and Tier-1 companies. StepUp is a self-paced course that offers 10 mentor sessions/mock interviews, while LevelUp is an instructor-led live course that offers 15 mentor sessions/mock interviews. Both programs are customizable and offer unlimited coaching sessions as well as placement assistance.
Interview Kickstart’s SwitchUp course is designed for employees at FAANG or Tier-1 companies who are looking to upskill in a brand-new technological domain. Made specifically for aspiring data science and ML engineers, the instructor-led live course offers 15 mentor sessions/mock interviews along with placement assistance and unlimited coaching sessions.
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Alumnus Jaime Lichauco’s review states: “Thanks to Interview Kickstart, I was able to get an offer at Google! All of the instructors were extremely knowledgeable and willing to help. While I was preparing for my interviews, watching all of the foundational videos, classes, practice problems, and test questions really helped me. I was able to refresh my knowledge with these videos and refer to the class recordings whenever I had any confusion. Even while working at Google, I still continue to look back at my notes and do the practice problems just to keep myself interview-ready at all times. Overall, this program was really well put together. It is what a lot of people in the industry need to use to maintain and refresh their skills. Kudos to Soham and the team for creating this great program.”
As previously announced, Interview Kickstart costs depends on many factors, including the student’s domain, their experience and target role, the pathway they choose, and the payment method. The programs cover all of the most important Topics that candidates are tested for during the interview process, including data structures, algorithms, systems design, core domain topics, and behavioral interviews.
“When you interview with companies and don’t succeed, you do not get any feedback about why you may have failed,” says the spokesperson. “At Interview Kickstart, you will have multiple personalized feedback loops every week during our program including classes, individual technical coaches, resume feedback, LinkedIn profile feedback, regular timed tests, and mock interviews with hiring managers. These are key to succeeding in the current competitive landscape.”
For more information about Interview Kickstart’s programs and to read what its students have to say, readers can visit https://www.interviewkickstart.com/reviews.
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4701 Patrick Henry Dr Bldg 25, Santa Clara, CA 95054, United States
CONTACT: Dashrath Rajpurohit