Two sisters are hoping their business venture not only provides new vocational education opportunities for area residents, but that their unique classroom-hands-on program will give students a career advantage.
Carolina Construction School opened its doors to students pursuing careers in construction and commercial truck driving earlier this month. The eight-week program is purposed to generate better-qualified workers in the industry by investing in advanced construction education.
In addition to classroom and field training, Carolina Construction School promises student internships; President Jan Lineberger says that’s what makes the school exceptional.
“There are several programs sort of like ours,” she said. “Where ours differs is that we have a sponsorship with LCI – Lineberger Construction – so that we can offer internships … that’s been something that we’ve found no one else is offering.”
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Lineberger, who holds a Master’s degree in psychology and was teaching at the university level before moving from Pennsylvania, said the school’s goal is simple, “We prepare our students to be job ready.”
LCI is a multifaceted company that specializes in operations such as paving and hauling construction materials. The owner and founder of the company is Kim Lineberger – Jan’s older sister.
Kim created Carolina Construction School to be an expansion of LCI’s employee training. She commissioned Jan to be president of the school in addition to her role as director of health and safety at LCI.
“That’s how the school was born,” Kim said. “To be able to train all year long. With LCI, we only did it during our winter months when we were down… hopefully this will be a way to continue training.”
The Lineberger sisters are a rarity in the construction industry; just 8.9 percent of U.S. construction workers in 2014 were women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s challenging just like any other business,” Kim said. “There’s always challenges but we work right along with everybody.”
Students may choose between two courses at Carolina Construction School – heavy equipment operation and commercial truck driving. The heavy equipment course will train students to operate their choice of two pieces of heavy machinery. Commercial truck driving students will go through training to pass South Carolina’s CDL truck driver’s certification test.
The school provides a virtual reality experience for heavy equipment students before they are ready to safely operate the real deal. The “dozer simulator” is a $40,000 training tool available to students that wish to learn how to operate a dozer tractor.
Director of Training Ben Ross will teach most courses and supervise trainees at Carolina Construction School. “It’s a lifestyle change,” Ross said. “You have some individuals that are tired of their job and wish to make a career change. It’s hard to find a job starting out making this money – $45,000 a year – that’s about where they start.”
A new classroom building is under construction on the Carolina school property. The Lineberger sisters expect the facility to be completed by March 2017.
“Our hope is that the school continues to grow and that we fill a void, that we bridge that gap between employers and schools and help the economy grow.”