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RCC construction program benefits from federal grant

A nearly $1.2 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will enable Rogue Community College to boost the size and scope of its construction technology program.

Over three years, the grant, announced this week, will provide $1.18 million to expand entry-level training in construction skills, including forging links with local high schools, and to improve training offered for people already working in the trades, officials said.

It will add to the number of topics and types of classes offered so more students can be served, and will expand the program, now centered at the Table Rock Campus in White City, into Josephine County by adding classrooms and labs, probably through remodeling at the Redwood Campus.

The construction program offers certificates in construction technology and computer-assisted design and an associate's degree in construction industry management, as well as continuing education courses for construction workers, said Ralph Henderson, head of the college's construction technology program.

The program now serves about 75 students and, with the grant, will train an average of 174 students at a time, Henderson said.

RCC plans to teach trade-specific skills at job sites and offer continuing-education seminars, including some online courses, for people already working in construction. The enhancements will enable the school to serve more of those students than it does now, Henderson said.

Also planned are expansions of dual-enrollment programs that teach high school students job skills. These efforts try to expose teens to a wide variety of construction techniques and skills, Henderson said.

An expansion of entry-level courses will add classes in bridge and highway construction, as well as sub-contracting trades such as concrete finishing and drywall installation. With the additions, the college will offer training in all areas of residential, commercial and highway construction, Henderson said.

He said the expansion was planned with the input of construction companies in Southern Oregon and across the state. An industry advisory committee helped draft the plan in 2006, but RCC's first application for the grant is September 2006 was rejected. The school reapplied in 2007 and funding will start this fall.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485 or at aburke@mailtribune.com