BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Construction jobs are popping up all over the Capital City. Industry leaders report there is a high demand for people who are certified to operate big machines.
Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) is offering classes to get students ready for those jobs.
There is a $6 million project underway on the west side of the Mississippi River. JB James Construction workers are excavating the area for a new rail bed in Port Allen. Two men power heavy duty machines to get the job done. Their boss, Jeff James, said he can't hire skilled workers fast enough.
"Finding qualified heavy duty equipment operators is the greatest personnel need our company has," James said.
BRCC has learned the need spans the industry. The college jumped in to help. Heavy duty equipment instructor, John West, said while the students will spend some time with their noses in the books, it is the time they spend on the tracks that really counts.
"It's all hand-eye coordination and they say with these machines you fly it by the seat of your pants. You actually feel the blade," West said.
West said he can teach most people to operate a machine in ten minutes, but learning the proper technique takes a lot of patience.
"For example, you can learn to drive a bulldozer in 15 minutes then spend the next two years developing blade skill," West said.
West said female students have proven to have the best technique. As for the job market, he said, it is wide open.
"Just a week ago I did a Google search for heavy equipment jobs in Baton Rouge and I found 54 jobs advertised in Baton Rouge," West said.
JB James said most jobs pay in between $12 to $20 an hour, plus competitive benefits.
"There's definitely a future working in the construction industry," James said.
Louisiana Machinery Company donated the equipment students will use to train.
Evening classes begin on Monday, Sept. 8. Daytime classes start on Thursday, Sept. 18. The cost to enroll is $450.
You can find more information by visiting the Skill Craft Training tab on
or by calling 225-342-1337.