Stimulus to fund training for highway construction jobs

Federal stimulus money will finance a job-training program for people in northeast Kansas who are interested in building highways.

The educational effort will be financed with $200,402 from the federal government, as part of the $6.7 million in financing going to 14 states through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

While training grants aren’t all that unusual, this program will take a different approach, said Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation, which announced the grants Thursday afternoon.

“We’re trying to teach people so they can help us build highways and get the economy going again,” Hecox said.

Specifically, the program will finance apprenticeships and training programs for “underrepresented or disadvantaged people” seeking careers in transportation, engineering or construction, federal officials said.

“Providing individuals with the job training skills they need is key to keeping our highway system up and running,” said Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation. “These training programs will help ensure that the American highway system has able stewards for years to come.”

While Hecox said he did not have details about the program for northeast Kansas, he noted that the money would be administered through the Kansas Department of Transportation.

KDOT already finances a training program, through the YWCA in Topeka, for women and minorities interested in building trades.

Also Thursday, KDOT also received notice that it would get $224,600 for a program in the Wichita metro area.