A group of 18 students are embarking on a new career in the construction field at the newly opened LiUNA Training Center in Newark.

The 15,000 square foot facility features four classrooms and five acres of land to conduct skills training using the latest tools and technology.

The training center was developed by the Laborers International Union of North America, which has training sites all over the county. The multi-million dollar facility is the first of its kind in Delaware.

Participants in the apprenticeship program go through a series of classes and hands on training to develop all the skills they need to become a certified construction craft laborer. The program takes approximately two years to complete and participants receive some college credit for their work.

Raymond Pocino, president of LIUNA, talked about the significance of creating a win-win opportunity for both workers and employers.

“It is providing workers with the training to have a long lasting and fruitful career in construction,” said Pocino. “Opportunity is also about using our training expertise to provide employers with a highly skilled, productive and versatile workforce so that they may succeed.”

Governor Jack Markell explained that businesses have more options than ever before and having a strong and capable workforce is the key to securing new jobs.  

“We’re in a global war for jobs and what that really means is that we’re in a global war for talent because the jobs are going to go where the talent is,” said Markell. “Talent isn’t just born, talent is developed. So, this investment here in Newark, Delaware in training, in talent, in talent development is an investment in opportunity and jobs for all of us.”

The first batch of students have already started the apprenticeship program and even though they’re only weeks in, they’ve already received some hands-on training.

“We’re doing all the laborers work, we’re the clean-up crew, the last to leave the work-site, the first to arrive on the work-site,” explained Kevin Blackwell, a student in the program. “We’re learning as we go.”

Blackwell, a grocery store clerk, said he’d like to own his own construction company and build houses one day. He said the program because of the hands on approach.

“I chose this program because I [saw] that it was a better opportunity here, they [have] a lot of good people here as far as conductors to teach you,” said Blackwell. “The teachers they teach us well here. The people here, they let us know how to do the work instead of just sending us out.”

The quality for the apprenticeship program, students must be 18 and older and have a high school degree or equivalency.