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Carolina Handling partners with Wake Tech on new Forklift Diploma program

 Charlotte, NC-based Carolina Handling has partnered with Wake Technical Community College and five other material handling equipment dealers to offer a new Forklift Diploma Program that will begin this fall at North Carolina’s largest community college in Raleigh.

The new one-year Forklift Diploma Program will pair students with a sponsoring dealer to prepare them to be technicians specializing in the maintenance and repair of lift trucks. Students will attend classes on Monday and Tuesday at Wake Tech and work the remainder of the week at the sponsor’s dealership earning work-based learning credits and an hourly wage, according to Jon Paige Kearns, professor and program director of Heavy Equipment & Transport Technology at Wake Tech.

Upon graduation, students will be entitled to tuition and textbook reimbursement based on the agreement with their sponsoring dealer. There also may be a tool program incentive available. The new forklift diploma program will begin on August 15, with space for 16 students. Those interested in the program should apply by August 5.

Jon Paige Kearns headshot

Jon Paige Kearns

“For a technician, the forklift industry is just not known,” Kearns said. “People see the service vehicles driving around but I just don’t think they put two and two together, so I would like Wake Tech’s heavy equipment program to be a model for programs like this at other schools. There’s no education that will better prepare a student for a career than if they’re going to school and working with their future employer. Their career has been mapped out and they’re ready to go on day one when they graduate and go full time.”

James Sanders, Director of Operations-North Division at Carolina Handling, said the company’s partnership is an opportunity to raise awareness about the forklift industry and to help recruit technicians to a growing organization that needs to hire at least 70 technicians in the coming year.

The exclusive Raymond Solutions and Support Center for the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle, Carolina Handling also will provide the Wake Tech program with drive units, motors, and other components for hands-on learning and electric pallet jacks, reach trucks, and other equipment to coincide with classroom instruction.

“We hire a lot of associates out of Wake Tech,” Sanders said. “Wake Tech has been a great partner and we hope that we can be one, as well. We’ve all come together with other dealers to help support this program so we can draw students from it. It’s good for our community and it’s good for our industry.”

Going from a traditional five-day school week to the new forklift program’s work-study model also will help build relationships between students and future employers, Kearns added.

“When students graduate, they actually are staying with their sponsoring dealer whereas before, students were jumping all over,” he said.

For more information on Wake Tech’s new One-Year Forklift Diploma Program, contact Paige Kearns at or (919) 866-5257.

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