Free training helps construction job hunters

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 18:52:44-05
Hiring for construction jobs in Florida is on the rise. 
Many of these positions, however, require certified training. Polk State College is providing that training to job hunters.
The best part: It's all free.
For months, Monica Lawson has been looking for a job without much luck. The problem? Lack of qualifications.
"A lot of the jobs were construction. A lot of them said two years plus, or this certification, or that certification," Lawson told ABC Action News.
The mother of two says it's been tough. Her fortunes may be taking a turn thanks to the skills she's learning at Polk State.
Lawson is a part of the college's manufactured construction certificate program. Through a Department of Labor grant, the college provides the course free of charge.
"It's a win-win. If you're not working, it's a way to pick up the certifications and get your foot in the door and get yourself started within the industry," said program coordinator Bill Masters.
During the six-week training session, participants complete class course work and hands-on training. Once they receive their certificate, the college connects them with local employers. Those who complete the program are guaranteed a job interview.
"Our employer partners have told us that they really need to know that the workforce that's coming in is skilled and that they can put them to work right away," said program recruiter Mary Beth Shapiro.
This is the break Lawson has been looking for. She's confident that pretty soon she'll be earning a paycheck.
"It's gonna feel almost like that 17-year-old or 18-year-old would feel walking across that stage. Getting that diploma, you're able to do it on your own," Lawson said.
The training program will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday from Jan. 19 to Feb. 26 at the Polk State Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center, 310 Technology Drive in Bartow.
Prospective participants do not need any prior construction experience. However, they must take the TABE test, which is available at CareerSource Polk locations in Lakeland and Winter Haven.
For more information contact Shapiro at 863-297-1010, ext. 4615, or at