A new program in Essex County, Massachusetts, is training prisoners in hardscaping skills. The eight-week course, provided by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, includes learning through hands-on work and academic training components, ending with an industry-recognized credential created by the New England Concrete Manufacturers Association (NECMA).
“The course is not only helping workforce development but is providing workers with meaningful hardscape skills that give them the opportunity to earn income as they integrate back into society,” says NECMA President Larry Nicolai.
Content for this program was developed in part from ICPI’s Concrete Paver Installer Course, which instructor Dave Collins learned at an academic instructor training course last December. The program began in 2019 through donations to NECMA and a Perkins Grant for technical education for incarcerated individuals. Collins believes that the program is a “game-changer” for the prisoners, who can leave the program with a marketable skill.
According to ICPI’s 2019 Contractor Business Survey, 80 percent of contractors report that finding qualified workers is their biggest challenge. Programs like the one in Essex County are part of the solution in addressing this shortage, with workers ready to go much faster than through traditional academic programs.