Second program for Laborers aimed at introducing high school students to construction careers
By ROBERT KELLY
Madison County, IL — This fall, 15 students from high schools throughout Madison County will take part in a new program where laborers from the Laborers’ International Union of North America will teach them construction skills in a class before regular school hours.
The Construction Craft Preparation Program is a joint project between the Laborers and the Madison County Regional Office of Education funded by the union, and is aimed at attracting much younger workers into the construction trades, where the average age of new apprentices has reached the mid-30s.
Tim Roseberry, director of communications for the Laborers’ Midwest Region, said the union has operated the construction craft training program in deep Southern Illinois for a few years with some success.
“Our average apprentice is now 34 to 37 years old,” Roseberry said. “If we could just get that to 10 years younger it would be good for the union and the whole construction industry.”
Roseberry said he hoped the construction skills taught to the Madison County high school students would will inspire many of them to consider entering construction trades programs shortly after graduating high school. He said qualified apprentices can earn in the range of $27 an hour or more, plus benefits, in Illinois.
“It’s not just a job; it’s a career,” Roseberry said. “And I hope many high school students start to consider that.”
HOPING TO EXPAND: ‘THIS IS A BIG WIN’
Madison County’s Regional Education Superintendent Robert Daiber said students from Edwardsville, Triad, Roxana and Highland high schools already have applied for the program. “This is a big win for us, and hopefully also for the union,” Daiber said. He said he hopes the program can be expanded to more schools and more students in Madison County as monies become available through the union and more instructors are added.
“The money (for the first 15 students) has been budgeted by the Laborers” through the union’s Construction Craft Preparation Program, Daiber said. The first students will be high school juniors. Both juniors and seniors will be invited to apply for the program in the 2020-21 school year, he said.
HOW IT WILL WORK
Classes will be taught at the Laborers’ Training Center, 7277 Marine Road, in Edwardsville for two hours before regular classes each school day. Students will then be taken to their regular high schools for the rest of the school day.
Roseberry said two union instructors accredited by the Illinois Laborers’ and Contractors Apprenticeship and Training Program would present for each class.
The program will provide a mix of hands-on and classroom lessons. Participating students will earn high school credits, community college credits and Laborers’ Apprenticeship Training Program credits.
The high school students will not finish the program as full apprentices, but they will need fewer credits toward apprenticeship than those starting their apprenticeship training after high school, Roseberry said.
This fall’s junior year training schedule includes Craft Orientation, General Construction, Concrete 1 and Construction Math. The schedule for the spring 2020 semester includes Bridge Construction, Mason Tending and Landscaping.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
More information about the program is available through high school guidance counselors’ offices throughout Madison County and also from the county’s Regional Office of Education at 618-296-4530.