HomeNewsHighway construction jobs focus of new training

Highway construction jobs focus of new training

The Texas Construction Career Academy is holding a two-week program for individuals interested in a job in highway construction.

This program, just offered in Tyler and scheduled for other sites across the state, will help train, support, and employ individuals in a new career.

“We focus in on highway construction mostly,” said James Holt, construction technology and safety project coordinator for the Texas Engineering Extension Service. “Although, we have had a few students work for other entities.”

Texas Transportation Institute, Texas Engineering Extension Service, and the Texas Department of Transportation are all teamed up to provide instruction to the East Texas Area beginning Sept. 14.

In a group seminar setting, the first week of the program covered the introduction to highway construction and flagger’s certification. During this week, students learned all about safety within the highway work environment, as well as, how to be a professional flagger.

Holt said this session is important because it educated participants about the necessary rules, regulations, and code enforcement that employees must be aware of at every job site.

In the second week, students focused on construction math and resumé building. By breaking into smaller groups and holding mock interviews, students got first-hand experience on the importance of job interviewing. Students graduated the last Friday of the course. On this same day, a job fair is held to allow contractors and employers to be accessible for potential job placement.

“The Texas Construction Career Academy will act as a screener to find the people who are suited for this type of work,” said Debbie Jasek, a member of TTI’s Center for Professional Development.

The TCCA is an affirmative action program focused on recruiting women, minorities, and disadvantaged individuals into the construction industry. Classes in the past have equally held close to a 50/50 percentage of men and women. Holt said that with each session, more women participate in the classes. While many look forward to the excitement of driving the heavy machinery, others concentrate on handling smaller equipment used in flagging.

“With women coming into the program, we are becoming pioneers of the industry,” said Vicki Britton, a student of the program. “It is such a good program for single parents or women who never got the chance to go to school.”

The program has shown great success with earlier sessions held in Houston, Beaumont and Laredo. Also, completion of the course can lead to open doors with other branches of construction such as landscaping or even plumbing.

These introductory programs are offered free to the public. After being accepted into the short program and graduating, three certificates are awarded: flagger’s certification, completion of the introduction to highway construction, and certificate for completing the whole TCCA program. At this point, individuals are on their way to entry-level construction employment.

“I was able to secure a construction position within three days of completion of the program,” said Michael Cornelius, a graduate from the Dallas session. “I am very happy and will always be forever grateful for the program.”

With federal stimulus money being pumped into highway construction and bridges, this program creates a gateway opportunity to increase daily income. The classes are run for two weeks and are held for 40 hours per week.

A class recently held at Texas College just wrapped up their session last month. Other dates and locations for training are Oct. 5-16 at Austin Urban League in Austin and TBA Jan. 2010 in Fort Worth.

To qualify for enrollment, all individuals who apply must be a legal worker in the U.S., 18 years of age or older, highly interested in working outdoors, and must be able to pass a physical and drug screening test.

For more information and to find an application, download the PDF file at www.TCCA.org and send to the attention of the Research Specialist at the Center of Professional Development, Debbie Jasek, at Texas A&M University. She can be contacted at 979-845-5239 or d-jasek@tamu.edu.

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