A local company is working to make students aware of the types of opportunities available in the construction industry.
In 2018, HR Director for Riegler Blacktop, Michael Taylor, wanted to start a work-based learning program that consisted of a 12-week summer internship program. He wanted students to spend two weeks at each construction division.
After back-and-forth about what the program would consist of and navigating through a pandemic, Boone County Schools was able to secure a grant from the state to purchase a CAT Excavator Simulator and a CAT Bulldozer Simulator.
“Students can be trained on these instead of having to learn on a $200,000 piece of equipment,” said R.J. Riegler, executive vice president of Riegler Blacktop.”
The program takes place over the student’s junior/senior years. During their time with Gateway and Boone County Schools, the students will be earning various certifications that are needed for the construction industry. These certifications include OSHA 10, KYTC Flagger Certification, and KYTC Work Zone Safety Certification.
“What our team members do on a daily basis is quite amazing and you can make a very good living doing it, but we didn’t feel like that message was getting to our youth,” Riegler stated. “The simple truth is college is not for everyone and we really are trying to change the narrative.”
“Traditional schooling isn’t for everyone, especially me,” said Chase, a student in the program. “This program gives me the opportunity to show not just my school, but my peers, that you don’t have to be amazing in traditional school to be amazing at other things you’re passionate about.”
Students spend one hour on the CAT simulators and an hour in class time or hands-on learning about various aspects of the construction industry. They also have site visits scheduled at many construction pathways in NKY. These will mainly take place on Thursdays and relate back to what they learned that week.
“Imagine the position a kid can be in starting out making over $20 an hour from the age of 18-22 and still possibly living at home for part of that time with no college debt and while making deposits into his/her 401k that young, it can be life changing.”
Since the program started they have hired two employees that participated in this work based study.
“We hope to continue to find some great young talent as we move forward with the program,” said Riegler.