More than a dozen skilled professionals are ready to enter the industrial trades after completing a 10-week construction course at Klamath Community College.
The students, ranging from teens to adults in their 60s, spent the course learning how to operate power tools and machinery, and to perform basic construction math, read blueprints, and practice safety. Each course module was an opportunity for the students to earn certificates accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).
The NCCER is recognized by the construction industry as the training, assessment, certification, and career development standard for the construction and maintenance craft professional
“There is a real need in the community, and all over the country, for a skilled labor force,” said KCC instructor Mark Griffith. “A lot of employers we’ve heard from say finding reliable people that want to work and can do what they say they can do is challenging. Earning the NCCER certifications in this course is a way for job seekers to show employers they’ve learned a skill.”
In addition to construction coursework, the students received specialized training in flagging, first aid and CPR, forklift operation, and construction safety.
Student Kathy Scott said the package of course offerings was a great fit for her career goals.
“I want to be a flagger. Getting that training was very important to me,” Scott said. “First aid and CPR was awesome, and is helpful to have in any situation. You have to know safety to be a flagger, so the OSHA training was also important.”
According to Stefanie Siebold, director of programs at East Cascades Works in Bend, development of KCC’s construction program was mostly driven by employer need.
“We have really limited number of skilled people in the construction industry,” Siebold said. “The training topics were tailored to demand, based on what we were hearing from industry.”
The KCC construction program was funded by a $30,000 Workforce Innovation Grant East Cascades Works awarded to KCC to skill-up community members who are re-entering the workforce or who need to update their skills to meet modern industry demands.
“The ultimate goal is to create a pipeline for business,” Siebold said.
Griffith explained that program’s core curriculum focused on preparing students to work at basic construction site.
“It gave them a brief introduction on hand tools and power tools, safety procedures, being in and around equipment, rigging and knot tying, and construction mathematics,” he said.
Students were also required to attend an eight-hour hands-on lab each Saturday. The labs alternated between working at an industry jobsite, such as building pole barns, and building a standalone shed at the KCC campus.
“The best way to learn these skills and to be applicable on a jobsite or for an employer is to get hands-on practice,” Griffith said.
The students built the 10-by-12-foot shed from the ground up to learn practical skills related to the fields they are interested in, such as carpentry and HVAC. The students chose the design and colors, and installed all the components, including siding, two windows, shingle roofing, and a cedar porch.
“It was a fantastic experience, and we all learned a lot working as a team,” said student Sara Graham, who is using the skills she learned to convert a shed at her 73-year-old mother’s home into a painting studio.
After students complete the construction program, they can decide whether they want to go into the workforce, or enroll in an apprenticeship or certification program at KCC.
“The construction program helped me get into a good job, and I’m really grateful for it,” said student Michael Randolph.
For more information about KCC’s general construction course or other workforce development, contact KCC’s Workforce and Community Education office at 541-880-2243.