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Wallace State, Mercedes join forces in new partnership

Wallace State and Mercedes Benz are set to join forces with a new co-op partnership.

Starting in the fall of 2019, Wallace State Community College students in the Automotive Service Technology program will be on the fast track to success, thanks to a partnership with Mercedes Benz U.S.

Recently, Mercedes Benz and Wallace State announced a partnership where students can apply to be part of a two-year co-op program. Students who are accepted will do their coursework at Wallace State in the fall and spring semesters and will work at the Mercedes Benz plant in Vance during the summer semesters.

Wallace State Hanceville President Vicki Karolewics says Mercedes has had partnerships with schools like Wallace State in the past and because of significant personnel needs they have experienced, they wanted to get more community colleges involved.

"It is very significant," Karolewics said. "It launches students into a career at Mercedes Benz, which is one of those highly valued professions and highly valued careers. It launches them into a job earlier than their peers normally arrive there. It launches them with a level of experience and level of compensation that is very desirable in today's economy."

Student Joshua Dia wants to have the knowledge and skill set to fix any problem on a car that he works on. He cannot wait for the program to come online and will make a big impact on Wallace State students.

"A partnership with Mercedes, you are getting top of the line electronic diagnostics because they are so advanced... it is going to give us an opportunity to get the knowledge, skills that we need as students to be able to repair and service vehicles," Dia said.

While working at the plant, students will earn $16 an hour, as well as a $400 monthly housing allowance in the Tuscaloosa area. In their second year of the program, students will earn $17 plus the $400 monthly housing allowance.

"What I find most important is that Mercedes Benz is investing earlier, two years earlier in creating the kind of employee that is desirable for their workplace," Karolewics said. "Not only that, but it places them on a path to progression in the workplace more readily than others might have an opportunity to do. Mercedes has changed Alabama's economy, and we have to in our community colleges around the state, we have to work very diligently to make sure their talent pipeline is secure and produces the kind of workers they need to be successful, but also to help Alabama continue to grow."

Mercedes Benz also donated two new GLE class vehicles to the school for training purposes.

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