Owensboro Community and Technical College recently rolled out a new program, in hopes of elevating the number of high school graduates entering the labor force in the Owensboro community.
In recent years, a growing number of high school graduates have forgone trade-based fields, in favor of a more traditional classroom-based college route. This trend is to the detriment of the consumer, as well as the local economy.
Fewer workers in the labor force translate to a higher demand for jobs and projects, which, in turn, leads to more costly manual labor.
To combat this growing issue, OCTC has stuck up a partnership with the Home Builders Association of Owensboro. Through their synergy, a Construction FastTrack has been conceived to promote hands-on training for students seeking a non-traditional classroom experience.
Nathan Meredith, an employee of Brian Payne Custom Homes, has been instrumental in helping to get the Construction FastTrack up and running. Several months ago, Meredith and his boss, Brian Payne, were approached by OCTC about beginning a certificate-based program designed to equip community individuals for the workforce.
“As I look around the community, I have noticed that there are less and less young people in trade-based fields,” Meredith said. “So, when OCTC approached me about helping to get this program started, I was happy to help. Even though I don’t have any prior teaching experience, I took part in a similar program almost 20 years ago that equipped me for where I am today. I’m excited to see what our students are able to do after graduating.”
The Construction FastTrack was designed in conjunction with OCTC’s Work and Learn Initiative. The program does not require students to have any prior college coursework completed, with the only requirement a high school diploma or GED.
To make the program even more accessible, eligible students are able to take part in the nine-month FastTrack free of charge. Additionally, Ceary Thomas serves as the Success Coach for students involved, a role that was created for the sole purpose of helping students by equipping them with all they need to be successful.
The Construction FastTrack is currently in its first term, with more scheduled to launch in the coming years. Payne and Meredith say they are still working out some of the kinks of learning how to set students up to be successful in the workplace. However, they believe they have great help in one particular student auditing the class.
Will Mounts, Vice-President of Omico Plastics, Inc., is currently serving as a sort of ‘secret shopper’ for Meredith and Payne. Mounts, a board member at OCTC, is a member of the GO Fame board as well. He says he is taking part in the program to learn how to connect the Construction FastTrack to what is already happening through the KY Fame chapter here in Owensboro.
“GO Fame has hundreds of applicants each year for its various programs,” Mounts said. “Unfortunately, we are only able to take a small number of applicants for our 18-month long 40-hour a week program. I’m excited to learn more about the Construction FastTrack because some of the students we have had to turn away will now be able to earn an education in an alternative trade-based field. It’s great for GO Fame, OCTC, and most importantly the community of Owensboro.”
Even while the Construction FastTrack is in its infantile stages, the program is already making a big impact on one particular student. Sarah McDonald, a resident of Owensboro, had only ever previously worked various entry-level jobs before enrolling in the program. She said she hopes more people follow her same path to a bigger future and a better paycheck.
“I’m still very new to the construction field, but I’m excited to learn how to build homes for families in our community,” McDonald said. “A home is more than just brick and walls, it’s a place where people build their lives. It’s cool to be part of something that is bigger than yourself. Since the program takes place in the evening, I can’t think of why anyone wouldn’t want to get involved.”
To learn more about the Construction FastTrack, contact Ceary Thomas by email at email@example.com.