Partnership helps replace retiring Tinker AFB work force

Monday, February 9th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A partnership between Tinker Air Force Base and area universities and technology centers is helping the base replace its rapidly retiring work force.

More than 600 people have been hired through the Education and Training Partnership program since it started in 2000, officials said.

Altheda Anderson, program officer said the partnership provides internships that train students in Oklahoma schools so they are ready to work when they graduate, and it keeps people in the state, she said.

``Every job that stays in Oklahoma that a young person is skilled enough to perform only enhances the state,'' Anderson said.

Having a younger work force lined up is important to the base, since 60 percent of its 14,000 civilian employees are expected to reach retirement age by 2006.

Tinker has ties with several universities as well as career technology centers and high schools through the Education and Training Program. It has gained national attention, earning a nomination from Harvard University for a $100,000 grant for innovation in government operations.

Del City resident Diedre Williams, who studied aviation technology and repair at a Metro Technology Center, unexpectedly benefited through the program.

She thought she'd have to leave the state to get a job in the aviation industry and didn't consider working at Tinker until base recruiters showed up at her school. Williams got a job at the base repairing turbine jet engines.

``I got to stay in Oklahoma,'' Williams said. ``It's one of the better-paying jobs in Oklahoma, and it has great benefits for the family.''

Sheet metal trainee Robert Pitcock, said he chose a job at the base because he wants job stability.

``There's so many jobs leaving because of NAFTA,'' Pitcock said. ``I really thought this would be the best long-term choice for my family.''

Pitcock, an aviation technology student at Metro Technology Center, is also part of a cooperative training program that allows students to intern at the base.

Staring salary for permanent jobs at Tinker is $40,000 a year, Anderson said.