CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Landing a high-paying job or even entering a trade isn’t always the most easy path for those unemployed. Often times, a lack of necessary skills or experience can be the limitation. But for the past 12 years, Parkland College in Champaign has offered a doorway to stability and success, at no cost!

It’s all thanks to the Highway Construction Careers Training Program, which is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation. It’s that financial backing that allows anyone 18 and older to apply. But it comes with stipulations, such as attending an orientation, having a high school diploma/GED, and even passing a drug test including for marijuana.

To enter the program, you must also score higher than a 7th grade level on a math and reading test and continue passing drug tests throughout the program. Doing so could earn men and women of all ethnic backgrounds or orientations a place in the construction field. Including an average income of $56,180 for those in skilled construction trades.

One example of that is Marlowe Coleman, a graduate of the HCCTP program in November of 2018. Since that time, he’s flourished in a wide variety of construction projects working for the Laborer’s Union as a journey-level tradesperson. Coleman is even working the repaving project on Randolph Street just behind our WCIA studios. But Marlowe shared that the impact of the program is all about what you put into it prior.

“There’s so many opportunities once you get so far. Right now I help build buildings on campus. I help build streets around Champaign. On 57, we got the highway project right now which lasts a couple years. I had the opportunity to work out on the highway. So you get to open your eyes to many different views. It’s up to you to take advantage of it.” says Marlowe.

Graduates, like Marlowe, have transitioned into jobs as laborers, operating engineers, ironworkers and more. You do need a valid driver’s license and must attend an orientation session. The last one for the fall is actually this Friday, August 26th. One at noon and another at 4:00 p.m., both at Parkland College. You can register online at parkland.edu/ceRegister or call 217-351-2235.

For those interested in browsing the various classes HCCTP offers, you can click here.

To contact the College of Education itself on Parkland’s campus for more info, click here.