After 14 years of equipping unemployed minorities with the skills necessary for a job in the construction industry, the Construction Prep Center in St. Louis, Missouri is shutting down.
The boot camp cost students nothing but carried an annual budget that fluctuated between $180,000 and $480,000, according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Most of the camp’s funding came from the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
Construction Prep was established after a group of protesters shut down traffic on Interstate 70 over concerns about minority jobs and contracts. Since then, 61 classes graduated from the center, the most recent in October of last year. There are 1,141 alumni of the program and 53 percent have found work in the industry though that rate has been falling since 2011.
As the industry faces a skilled worker shortage and growing demand, camps and training programs like Construction Prep are becoming more and more vital for finding young people with experience and skill to fill an increasing number of positions.
Vivian Martain, the director of Construction Prep, is hopeful the camp can regroup. She said there is simply not enough government grant money to go around but plans to seek help from the private sector.