State lawmakers meet Laborers' & Contractors apprenticeship stud - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

State lawmakers meet Laborers' & Contractors apprenticeship students

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MARION, Ill. -- State Senator Dale Fowler along with Representatives Terri Bryant, Patrick Windhorst and Dave Severin met with instructors and students, who are part of the Illinois Laborers' and Contractors Preparation Program. 

The 13 students from Marion, Herrin, Johnston City and Vienna High Schools mark the first class of the program, which is the first of it's kind in Southern Illinois. Participants earn high school, college and apprenticeship credit. 

Instructor Joe Davis says students learn many valuable skills like how to dismantle bridges, GPS training, and blue print reading. The only issue is that work has been slow in recent years. 

"I always say that we can train all the people, we just need the work to send them to," Davis explains. 

Lawmakers told students what they are doing in Springfield to bring trade jobs to the area such as a potential capital bill for infrastructure. 

If passed, Fowler hopes to get funding for the Cairo Port project that he's been trying to move forward. "I wanted them to be encouraged in something that we are really working hard on," he says. 

While Bryant mentioned the importance of getting female and minority students involved, "If you want to get a state contract then, you often have to show a certain percentage of minority involvement." 

The program mostly relies on recommendations from high school counselors, but Severin plans on spreading the word. "When we go talk to students at schools say 'hey have you found out about this program, have you signed up for it.'"

Instructors hope to add two additional openings for the next class, which starts in the fall. They add that the program costs around $20,000 per year and  receive no state funding or grants. Coordinators hope to work with state lawmakers to change that. 

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