Early College and Career Academy Debuts Construction Trades Program

Early College and Career Academy Debuts Construction Trades Program

ECCA to partner with local union for construction education

High school juniors and seniors interested in construction careers can train directly with trade professionals in a new dual-credit pathway Parkland College is launching this fall.

Parkland's Early College and Career Academy will debut Construction Trades, the ninth pathway of the ECCA, which gives students skilled career training while still in high school.

The Construction Trades pathway will be a collaboration with the East Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council. Nick Elder, director of Education for Employment System No. 330 and ECCA coordinator, called the new pathway a true partnership between the local business community and the academy.

“Construction Trades will serve as a pipeline to fill the growing need for young people in the trade fields as the current workforce begins to age out,” Elder explained. "We're excited about the launch of this program."

Learning from this workforce, student participants will develop hands-on experience and knowledge about individual trades. They will spend three days per week on campus and two days off-campus in environments such as trade halls and professional sites.

"Not only will students be able to earn college credit for the courses they complete on campus, but they're also going to be able to form connections with professionals in the construction industry," Elder said.

Students will earn 10 Parkland College credits for completing the program, which prepares them to re-enroll after high school graduation to complete Parkland's Construction Management associate's degree. Moreover, they will be prepared to apply for an apprenticeship with a local trade union, according to Kevin Sage, business agent with Plumbers & Steamfitters LU No. 149.

"If students want to pursue a career in the building trades, this class is going to lead them right up to it," said Sage. "They'll know how to apply for apprenticeships, see the different opportunities out there, and know what trades would suit them best. I think it's going to be a real good thing for these kids to see."

Launched in November 2014, the Early College and Career Academy is a collaboration of the EFE No. 330 K-12 career and technical education cooperative and Parkland College. At the academy, high school juniors and seniors earn dual credit for courses in certain skill-based programs: Automotive, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, Construction Trades, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services (Health Professions or Fire Service focus), Certified Nursing Assistant, Industrial Technology, and Education Pathway. The academy benefits not only area students but also local businesses due to the increased skill level of the incoming workforce.

For more information about the ECCA Construction Trades program, contact Elder at or 217/355-1382. Visit the ECCA page to learn more about the Early College and Career Academy. 

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