By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Thanks to a three-year workforce development grant, AGC of Missouri is partnering with the Missouri Career Center in Springfield, MO to teach construction courses to inmates statewide that will soon complete their sentences and be released to start over.
AGCMO District Representative for Southwest Missouri Charlyce Ruth says in March the AGCMO began teaching courses in heavy highway construction, manufacturing and warehousing to inmates preparing for release from correctional centers across Missouri. Those serving their time and within 20 to 180 days of being released are taking the opportunity to build skills through education in areas such as forklift operation and work zone flagging.
“We began teaching in five prisons,” said Ruth. “Now we’re teaching in nine across the state. We’re excited to be a partner with the City of Springfield and the Missouri Career Center in this three-year program that is giving inmates an opportunity to gain construction industry skills and help them change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their families.”
AGCMO Vice President of Safety Brandon Anderson is heading up the teaching.
“It’s a completely voluntary program for inmates who are interested,” Anderson said. “We’re particularly excited about the courses we’ve gotten to teach at Chillicothe Correctional Center in Chillicothe, MO, one of only two all-female prisons in the state. Historically these inmates have only been offered administrative and cosmetology courses. This facility embraced the opportunity to offer construction industry expertise and training and their inmates have been eager to learn. Given the dire need for construction industry workers, this program offers inmates the chance to prepare to earn a living wage as soon as they’re released, and it’s bringing qualified individuals into the construction industry.”
Upon release, former inmates will have additional training opportunities via AGCMO and the Missouri Career Center. Inmates receiving training through this grant plan to return to Southwest Missouri to live and work.