Marion, Il. (KFVS) - With the Illinois Governor’s plan to invest $45 billion dollars in capital projects, the need for trade workers will be increasing.
On Monday, Aug. 5, school leaders in southern Illinois met with the Illinois Laborers & Contractors Joint Apprenticeship Training Program in hopes of targeting more high school students who may be interested in trading college for a different kind of career path.
Right now, their plan is to expand the construction craft preparation program to more schools across the southern Illinois.
Vienna School Superintendent Joshua Stafford said it starts with changing the conversations they have with students about their future.
“The question we’ve asked has been where do you want to go college? When really what we need to be asking young people is what do you want to do for a meaningful career,” Stafford said.
“If your particular career path doesn’t require a bachelors degree then why would we waste our time and money doing that,” he said.
The construction craft preparation program takes students out of the classroom and gives them hands-on experience in careers desperately looking for workers.
Local schools are partnering with an Illinois labor union to offer the training.
Laborer’s Site Coordinator Joe Davis say this program is timely.
“Right now the construction industry in southern Illinois is booming, we need laborers, we are in dire need of construction craft people,” he said.
Vienna High School Senior Alex Miller is currently a part of the program and works for for the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s a lot of important skills we can use in a job site or in a career or just like stuff we need around our house, it’s all really going to pay off,” Miller said.
Stafford is excited for the second year of the Pilot program.
He hopes to lure even more students into a high-paying job after they finish high school.
“Our students are getting equipped with the skills they need and the certifications that they need in order to fill the demand that is certainly coming very very soon.”
This school year the program expanded to include students from Cairo High School.
Johnston City, Vienna, and Herrin high school also offer the vocational training.