$1.4 Million Investment in Laborers’ High School Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced more than $44 million in awards to provide career training and supportive services to help workers secure good jobs in stable, high-demand careers. $1.4 million of that investment is being directed to Vienna High School. Vienna, in cooperation with Laborers’ Local 773 (Marion, IL), the Illinois Laborers’ & Contractors Joint Apprenticeship & Training Program, and the Cairo, Carbondale, Goreville, Herrin, Marion, and Johnston City high schools. Together, the collaborative plans to double the capacity of the cooperative high school construction program in southern Illinois.

The “triple credit” Laborers’ High School Construction Craft Preparation Program allows high school juniors and seniors to attend daily training at the training facility in Marion and complete their apprenticeship training and requirements while in high school. At the same time, a partnership with Shawnee Community College allows the students to accumulate college credit towards a degree in construction management while earning high school credit at the same time.

“Each year, more students apply to be in the high school program than we have seats for. This expansion will allow us to add more schools and students, ensuring that we can get southern Illinoisans connected with good jobs,” said Jerry Womick, business manager for Laborers’ Local 773.

Matt Smith, midwest assistant regional manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America, states, “The Laborers’ high school program is an innovative initiative to provide high school students with hands-on training and practical skills in the construction industry. The program gives students the ability to get a head start on a great career building the future of the region.”

$1.4 million in grant funding will enhance the existing program and provide new state-of-the-art equipment, updated curriculum, supplies, facilities, and technology for the students. This investment is expected to contribute to the growth and development of the region by adding to the development of a skilled workforce.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support and recognition from the Department of Labor. As a regional collaborative of schools and industry we are better able to meet the needs of students, families, and our economy. This effort has already evidenced proven returns for our southern Illinois workforce,” said Vienna school superintendent Joshua Stafford. 

Phillip Hosfeldt, dean of system programs at Vienna, said, “The partnership exemplifies the power of collaboration and the shared goal of preparing students for successful careers. By combining educational resources with industry expertise, this initiative will create a pathway for students to enter the construction workforce with confidence and competence.”

For more information, please visit Vienna High School’s website or the DOL press release.

Students, Laborers’ leadership, and school administrators pictured in front of the Illinois Laborers’ & Contractors Joint Apprenticeship & Training Program facility.

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