Six Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center (ADC) inmates have completed the Heavy Equipment Operator Program through Lord Fairfax Community College.
In addition to learning how to be heavy equipment operators, they earned a credential, according to a release from Prince William County.
The inmates developed a skill that enables them to find better jobs, ADC Work Release facility Program Manager Lt. Wilson Creighton-Bey explained.
“Inmates that leave the jail without a job, without training, a lot of times, they’re set up for failure, because they’re no better off than when they came in,” Creighton-Bey said in a release. “A good job with a decent wage will keep them out of jail.”
On the last day, employers conducted interviews, according to Virginia Career Works Northern Virginia Program Director Ann Hyslop.
Three of the inmates have been hired.
“I was offered a job the day I get out making $18 an hour, which is about $6 an hour more than I was making before I got incarcerated,” Patrick Walsh, who is planning to be released in April, said in a release. “The company I’m going to be working for said they’re going to put me in an off-road dump truck. They said that within a few years the room for advancement is endless.”
This is the first kind of program that allowed work-release program inmates to go to a community college class.
“The participants were well prepared, eager to learn and asked excellent questions in every class,” Lord Fairfax Community College Heavy Equipment Program Manager Donna Comer said in a release. “They stayed on top of their studies, often jumping ahead in their online homework. The instructors and I were impressed with their dedication to the program and are proud to report that all participants successfully passed their certification exam.”
The training was supported by a grant from the Virginia Community College System to the SkillSource Group and a Virginia General Assembly program called “FastForward”.
About 4,000 heavy equipment operator positions in Northern Virginia haven’t been filled. The jobs have been partially created because of I-95 and I-66 construction.
The Heavy Construction Contractors Association represents 175 companies that are trying to fill jobs with Lord Fairfax Community College program graduates.
“In many cases there’s an aggressive competition in who gets to hire the graduates,” Heavy Construction Contractors Association Executive Director Kenneth Garrison said in a release. “These are good-paying jobs and valuable to keep.”