How do you streamline additional training for a workforce who may be overwhelmed by the prospect of higher education?

That was the challenge that Altec – a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs, and contractor markets – faced in early 2020.Logos Altec Collat

Employees, referred to as associates, encountered challenges with Altec’s traditional tuition reimbursement program model, which was based on best practices in industry. These challenges, including financial and administrative burdens, prevented many associates from taking advantage of Altec’s benefits and continuing their education.

Training Manager Chris Harned, Compensation Manager Tina Tilashalski, and Talent Manager Chris Winchester, reached out to UAB and the Collat School of Business to develop a strategy to eliminate common barriers that prevented Altec associates from pursuing education.

Based on this collaboration between UAB and Altec, the Altec Educate Program was established. The program provides direct funding for an associate’s degree, covering books, fees and tuition. Associates enrolled in the Altec Educate program also receive one-on-one assistance and support from Collat advisors throughout their academic career.

“We wanted to create a guided, simplified process for our associates to pursue additional training,” says Harned. “Our partnership with UAB is a direct result of associate feedback.”

The partnership between UAB and Altec has proven successful. In the first semester of the program, more than 150 Altec associates have enrolled in UAB classes.

Associates may enroll in classes within the marketing, finance, accounting, information systems, industrial distribution, management, and human resource management undergraduate programs. Associates may also enroll in graduate programs, including the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Accounting (MAc) and Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MSMIS).

Altec has also partnered with the UAB School of Engineering to offer a Master of Engineering Degree with concentrations in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management, Information Engineering and Management, and Structural Engineering.

All programs are offered 100% online, which allows Altec’s global network of associates – from Birmingham to Australia and beyond – to get the UAB college experience.

Laura Tull, Collat’s director of transfer student success, believes the Educate program is a great opportunity for Altec associates to simply focus on school.

“Some of the associates entering UAB have never enrolled in higher education before or it’s been many years,” says Tull. “The Altec Educate Program allows them to not worry about fees or deadlines, and instead focus on learning.”

Tull works closely with undergraduate program manager Wendy England and graduate program manager Joseph Talty to advise Altec associates as they navigate the programs. Together, they serve as associates’ primary contacts, answering questions and providing guidance along the way.

“It’s been so rewarding to see associates enrolling or returning to education,” says Tull. “I get to share in their excitement – and their frustration - as they experience what it means to be a college student.”

Talty, who advises associates enrolled in the MBA, MSMIS and MAc programs, notes that Altec’s associates bring a lot to the online classrooms. “The associates bring unique, working experience to online discussion and assignments,” says Talty. “They enrich the classroom conversation.”

For Altec’s Harned, Tilashalski, and Winchester, partnering with UAB symbolizes Altec’s commitment to higher education and the importance of a mutually beneficial relationship between industry and academic institutions. Altec has partnered with and supported the Collat School of Business and UAB for many years through philanthropy and scholarship funding, including a recently endowed scholarship for HR management majors.

“We’ve created a great partnership with UAB throughout the years,” says Harned. “We recognize the high caliber of education from the Collat School of Business and other UAB schools, and we want to continue to give our associates the UAB Blazer experience.”