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Pendleton prisoners learn post-release job skillsing course

by Berit Thorson  |  Mar 1, 2024 Updated Mar 5, 2024


Inside a trailer parked on the grounds of Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution sat a row of chairs on raised yellow, metal platforms in front of four large screens.

Twelve men incarcerated at EOCI used the technology to learn how to operate heavy equipment through a simulation. At the end of five weeks, they were certified as heavy equipment operators at an introductory level.

The program is run by Baker Technical Institute. It trains students on various machines, such as excavators, bulldozers, and skid steers, in addition to CPR, first aid, traffic control flagger and forklift certification classes. The course instructor also helps participants with resume, cover letter and interview preparation to enter the construction field.

“It’s a super high demand sector right now, obviously, with all the infrastructure spending that’s happening with the federal government,” said Doug Dalton, Baker Technical Institute president. “There’s been a real lack of skilled labor when it comes to construction.”

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