PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Community College is expanding its industry-driven programs to help students get ready for an influx of jobs predicted to become available in the new year.
President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to rebuild America's roadways, bridges, and tunnels. BRCC is preparing students to answer that call.
A group of students at BRCC in Port Allen is learning the basics of operating heavy equipment. While the machines can be fun to drive, their instructor,
John West, quickly reminds them it takes a lot of skill and patience.
"It's very repetitious. I use the analogy all the time that Michael Jordan became a great basket-baller by shooting about 100,000 times at the goal hoop," West said.
The course involves a lot of hands-on training and a little construction math. The classes are 10 to 12 weeks long, but West said the ones who stick with it typically land solid jobs.
"One of the guys I'll mention had zero experience on heavy equipment, absolute zero experience, and within about 12 months, he was making $120,000 a year in Lake Charles," West said.
BRCC also offers classes in Non-Destructive Testing for people who prefer to work in the petro chemical industry. These students spend a little more time in the classroom. Executive Director of Workforce Education, Girard Melancon, said the career opportunities in both industries are booming.
"All our contractors, Cajun, JB James, and others do big civil roadwork and they are really projecting that there will be a lot of opportunities coming in next year," Melancon said.
While it might appear there are mostly men training for those jobs, West said women have had great success on this track as well.
"In the past, I found the best student I ever had on performance was a young female who was four feet eleven inches tall, and she mastered the bulldozer unlike any student I've ever seen," West said.
West said anyone can build a successful career with the tools they are given at BRCC. In the end, it's all about having the drive to get there. BRCC is holding an Open House on Thursday, December 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at its Port Allen location at 3233 Rosedale Rd.