Watch now: Bloomington Area Career Center to add new trades program | Local Education | #education | #technology | #training

The Bloomington Area Career Center will add a new program next fall which looks to give high school students a chance to learn more about trade and industry opportunities in the area.

BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington Area Career Center next year will offer a new program that grew out of a perceived need for more workers trained in trades and manufacturing.

BACC Director Tom Frazier said he wanted to develop the program after hearing from local businesses and unions that they were worried by a shortage of workers in their fields. He also heard concerns that many of the current workers are nearing retirement age.

“They’re starting to get concerned about how they are going to replace (those workers),” Frazier said.

The new trades and manufacturing program will give students a chance to get their OSHA 10 certification for workplace safety and visit and connect with area companies and unions.

Jonathan Novotny and A.J. Bond fill a driver’s education car with oil at the Bloomington Area Career Center on Tuesday. They are in their second year in the automotive technology program. 

Connor Wood

The first part of the class, which would probably last four to six weeks, would cover the certification. Then the students would go to area organizations to learn more about how they operate, how to get into the industry, and some basic skills in the trade.

More than half a dozen area businesses and the local electrical, laborers, carpenters and plumbers and pipefitters unions plan to participate, Frazier said.

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“I’m really impressed with the business community and their willingness to invest in this,” he said.

Tom Peasley, training director at the Bloomington-Normal Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, said he valued the longtime relationship with BACC. JATC is located at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 197.

“(BACC is) great to work with; it’s a good cause,” Peasley said.

Students at Bloomington Area Career Center build gingerbread houses as part of the culinary arts program on Tuesday. 

Connor Wood

Peasley said he is glad to see widespread cooperation for the new program, something that has been essential for IBEW 197 over the years. Union members and apprentices can be found across small and large businesses throughout the area, he said.

The current apprentice classes are a mix of younger and older people, with a wide array of people in Local 197, Peasley said. JATC runs two classes a year, staring Sept. 1 and May 1, with two night classes a week.

“We’re here, we’ll always be here, so if you’re interested, come out and apply,” Peasley said.

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BACC serves 17 high schools in McLean and DeWitt counties. Programs are offered to sophomores, juniors and seniors and there are more than 620 students enrolled this year. 

This will be the third new or redesigned program in three years. The laborers’ training program is in its second year and uses space in the Illinois Laborers and Contractors Training Facility in Stanford. The robotics and engineering program is also in its second year, Frazier said. He tries to offer what area high schools cannot, which includes a mix of newer programs and traditional ones like construction trades and automotive technology. 

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Frazier said he believes part of what the career center should do is make sure students know all of their options when they leave high school.

A.J. Bond and Jonathan Novotny, both in their second year in the automotive technology program, were changing the oil in a car on Tuesday for the driver’s education program at Bloomington High School. 

Bond said he hopes to use his skills learned at BACC to go into auto mechanics and welding. For Novotny, the program has been a chance to learn how to care for his own vehicles.

“I stayed because this class is really fun,” he said.

Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood

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