Community college starts construction training program

Tim Landis

A first class of 14 students started an intensive seven-week training program at Lincoln Land Community College this week intended to increase the number of minorities and women in building and construction trades.

The program coordinator said nearly three times that number applied.

“We had a very large response. We have some students who did not make it into this class who might make it into the next,” said Julie Rourke, workforce development coordinator at Lincoln Land.

A $300,000 grant announced Tuesday through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity also makes it possible for the students to complete the program free of charge. The Lincoln Land grant was among $6 million awarded this week to 13 colleges and organizations statewide.

Labor unions, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln Land have been working on the program as part of a Quantum Growth campaign started nearly a year ago with the goal of creating 4,500 jobs in five years.

The course includes four weeks in the classroom and three in a laboratory intended to improve math, employment and technical skills. Students who complete the program are assigned to a pre-apprenticeship with a local labor union.

“We take them out to job sites and let them see the different crafts, and show them what it means to be a construction union member, and what we do with our different crafts,” said Brad Schaive, business manager for Laborers Local 477.

Schaive said minorities make up 12-15 percent of the approximately 1,000 local members in seven area counties.

Training sessions also will be held in the spring and summer semesters.

“We’re really excited about this program. It’s an effort where we can help with a problem in the community,” said Lincoln Land spokeswoman Lynn Whalen.

In addition to minorities and women, Rourke said the program is open to “disadvantaged” workers such as the long-term unemployed, those with criminal convictions or persons with disabilities.

Tim Landis can be reached at (217) 788-1536 or tim.landis@sj-r.com.

Want more information?

n Must be at least 19 and have a high school diploma or general equivalency degree.

n Informational meetings are scheduled at the Lincoln Land Community College East Springfield Learning Center, 1507 E. Cook St., on the following schedule: 6-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5; 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7; 10-11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9; 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13; 1-2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15; and 10-11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16.

n LLCC workforce development training coordinator, Julie Rourke, 416-4409.