Job Point Graduates Students
COLUMBIA - Job Point held its 16th bi-yearly graduation ceremony for its construction trades students at St.Jude United Methodist Church Friday. The energy and excitement was evident on the graduates' faces as well as their family and friends. After what students called a rigorous program over the last nine and four months, the students can now enter the construction workforce.
Speaker Lester Woods gave the keynote address about hard work and sacrifices. The audience nodded along, laughed and responded with "amens" to the speech.
Dennis Van Etten finished the four month highway and heavy construction training. He said he joined the program at a time when he no longer wanted to live the kind of life he was living. Van Etten said the program was perfect because he was always interested in construction and already had electrical work experience. Van Etten hopes to own his own construction company one day.
Jobpoint is funded through Youthbuild, a national employment program. It works with local public and private companies to train workers while they earn a living. The program includes classroom work as well as paid internships at various locations in Mid-Missouri. At the internships, students incorporate their learning on actual construction projects. According to Director Gary Taylor, the school's current $1.1 million funding from the U.S. labor department is secure until 2014.
Taylor also said the dropout rate is 30-40 percent, but those who don't finish the program are always welcome to come back and start again.