EMCC gears programs toward construction industry

Four students graduated the EMCC CDL program Thursday, along with instructor Mark Dodson, at far left.

Staff Writer

Those interested in working in construction in the Golden Triangle and beyond now have a new way into the industry, with two East Mississippi Community College programs.

Among its broad range of workforce services programs, EMCC is now offering a construction basic skills program. In the program, construction program students will learn skills such as safety, site layout, foundation work, reinforcing bar, construction math and communication. In addition, the college has retooled its commercial diver’s license (CDL) program to focus more on construction-related driving, with dump trucks, lowboys and hot mix asphalt hauling now part of the five week course.

“This is our second year to have the program as part of workforce,” said EMCC workforce specialist Carey Butler. “It was a part of the college as a credit program, but due to budget cuts it got cut from the credit programs, so we reopened it as a workforce program.”

Initially, the truck-driving program focused almost completely on long-haul trucking, but with the most recent class it moved to its current curriculum. An extra week was added to account for additions to the training.

“Now, as of July 1, we refocused the program on that type of industry,” Butler said. “Phillips Contracting donated a dump trailer for the efforts, so that’s kind of the whole focus. They’re coming out. They’re meeting with the students. The bottom line is, we’re still getting them a CDL.”

The programs originated when a group of area construction firms expressed a need for more skilled workers to EMCC. Along with the companies, EMCC formed a “construction industry team” to help formulate the programs.

Companies involved include APAC-Mississippi, Burns Dirt, Century Construction, Dunn Roadbuilders LLC, Eutaw Construction Company, Falcon Construction Company, HR consultant Joe Beall, McCrary Construction Services, Mississippi Paving and Construction, Murphree Paving, Neel-Schaffer, Perma Corporation, Phillips Contracting and Superior Asphalt.

“They were having a difficult time getting employees that had some training in that type of driving, so we started working with them,” Butler said.

Students interested in the programs must be at least 18 years old, and score silver or better on the Workkeys test. Other requirements include proof of high school graduation or equivalency, a Department of Transportation drug screening, possession of a Social Security card and a government-issued driver’s license or ID.

For more information on the CDL program, Butler can be reached at 662-243-1967 or cbutler@eastms.edu. For the construction program EMCC workforce project manager Jim Huerkamp can be reached at 662-243-1961 or jhuerkamp@eastms.edu. For information on either,workforce services can be reached at 662-243-2686.