Heavy Equipment Operator Training Program Paves the Way for Opportunity

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Yonathan Vigil Eufracio was one of 11 students from Fauquier County Public Schools and Prince William County Public Schools who participated in LFCC’s first-ever high school cohort for heavy equipment operator training.

Working with machinery runs in Yonathan Vigil Eufracio’s family, so taking the Heavy Equipment Operators (HEO) program designed for high school students and offered by Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions last spring was a smart choice.

“It just came naturally to me,” he explains. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I applied and got the scholarship offered by my school system.”

As a senior in Fauquier County’s Southeastern Alternative School, which focuses on project-based learning, Yonathan was eligible to take the course for free. Fauquier County Public Schools had decided to cover the cost of the course – which is in a highly sought after the trade – for nine of its high school students.

They were joined by two students from Prince William County Schools who only had to pay $916 – two-thirds of the cost – thanks to FastForward program funding. The course comes with a “guarantee to interview” with local construction companies upon successful completion, and all of the students who planned to immediately enter the workforce were offered jobs.

“I really liked the classes,” says Yonathan, who was hired by Superior Paving Corp. in Gainesville at the end of the course. “Everybody was nice to each other. The instructor is a great guy.

“The course helped me out a lot. When I went to the classes, it really taught me so much and was so helpful.”

All of the students in the HEO class train on a state-of-the-art simulator.

“The simulator was really fun,” Yonathan says. “It’s pretty much the same thing I’m doing now on the loader. Only now I learn on the actual machinery.”

On June 13, 2019 high schoolers, including Yonathan Vigil Eufracio, participated in a signing day event following the heavy equipment operator training program.

Martha Lujan Pauley, director of human resources at Superior, says the company has been pleased with Yonathan’s progress – he impressed his bosses early on.

“When we initially hired him back in the summer, the plan was to have him get to know how the plant runs and work in the yard before getting on the heavy equipment,” she says.

However, the employee who normally ran the loader was diagnosed with cancer.

“We needed somebody who could run the loader, and because Yonathan had familiarity with it through the HEO course, we kind of sped up the process,” Pauley says. “It came in really handy to have an individual who already knew the feel of the equipment. I don’t think we could’ve trained somebody as quickly who hadn’t had the background and training Yonathan had. He’s doing very well.”

She praises the HEO course offered by Workforce Solutions.

“I think it’s a great thing because it promotes the vocational training which I think we’re lacking right now and are working towards in the state,” Pauley says.

Yonathan has no reservations recommending the HEO course to other young people.

“Definitely,” he says. “I’m really thankful and I really appreciate having the chance to be part of this program. It’s something I really recommend.”

To learn more about the Heavy Equipment Operator Fast-Track Training Program, click here >>>