Working in collaboration with the Texas Department of Correctional Services, the Prairie Gold Homes job training program sets high standards and demands strong commitment. In order to participate, inmates must earn a high school diploma or GED and pass a test to demonstrate core competencies. Once they successfully complete the classroom training portion of the program, they are qualified for hands-on construction work at the building site. Graduates receive a nationally-recognized construction industry certificate, enhancing their employability upon release. This certification is provided by the Home Builders Institute Pre-apprenticeship Construction Training Program (PACT). Review the Training Curriculum.
Only Community Corrections inmates in Lincoln or qualifying inmates from the Work Ethic Camp in McCook, NE. may enter the program, and participants are chosen carefully by Prairie Gold Homes staff, as well as screening performed by correctional staff. To qualify for consideration, inmates must first earn a high school diploma or GED and post an acceptable score on a test of core education requirements. They must complete an application and sign a contract that outlines expectations. Once they meet the entry-level education qualifications and are accepted into the program, participants receive over 80 hours of classroom training focusing on safety, tools, reading blueprints, communication, and employability skills. Instruction is offered through demonstration, guided study, and hands-on practice. After successfully completing the classroom requirements, participants can begin work at the job site, building homes under close supervision of the production manager. Inmates are treated as they would be in a typical construction environment with expectations similar to those in any workplace. They learn how to take constructive criticism, work together, and control anger. Once participants have successfully completed the training program, they receive a certificate from the Home Builders Institute. This certification is recognized nationally by major construction employers and can lead to further training in an industry trade once they are released. Once the construction training phase of the program is complete, graduates then attend a 2-week Life Skills program, which provides skills such as resume writing, interviewing, basic computer use, etc. Upon leaving the correctional system, the inmate is linked to one of the program’s re-entry service provider partners who assist with job placement, housing and other supportive services.
The Prairie Gold Homes (PGH) job training program was developed by a team of volunteers from the local education community and construction sector working collaboratively with staff from the Texas Department of Correctional Services. The program in Lincoln operates out of classroom space provided by the Correctional Department and the Associated Builders and Contractors. The home building site is provided in-kind by Cornhusker State Industries. For the program in McCook, operations take place in a restored municipal building, configured PGH’s special needs.