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New CityLink program gives workers hope, training for construction jobs

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 21:29:56-04

CINCINNATI — Rico Edwards, father of four young girls, wanted to get his life back on track.

“I was at my bottom,” he said.

Turns out, Edwards was perfect for a new program at CityLink trying to lift people up by helping them prepare to fill high-demand jobs in construction.

Now Edwards is one of 10 graduates in the first class that graduated Friday. Seven of them – including Edwards - already have job offers.

But it wasn’t easy.

Edwards said he struggled to find steady work for the last few years.

“I wasn’t working too much,” he said. “I was in and out of jobs.”

Trying to find a career and create a new life for himself and his family, Edwards turned to the CityLink Cornerstone Construction Class.

“This is the step that got me over that downtime,” he said. “For me personally, it’s been awesome and really assuring of what I am capable of doing.”

That was the idea.

“I think it reflects that this program is effective,” said Johnmark Oudersluys, Executive Director of CityLink. “But it reflects that, more importantly, the clients who went through this are incredible. They’re hard working. They’re diligent. They went through an incredibly rigorous program.”

The four-week class covers the basics people need to qualify for entry-level construction jobs, and CityLink works with local companies to help graduates find work as soon as possible.

CityLink expects 100% placement.

“We have incredible talent in this community and a program like this can help connect the dots between those employers and the clients,” said Oudersluys.

Edwards wasn't so sure at the start.

“I have to admit, I was a little nervous,” Edwards said. “It worked out 100 times better than I thought.”

As Edwards showed, the program not only provides the skills these workers need, it gives them hope.

“It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Because it’s not just a job, it’s a career,” said Edwards. “I can build from this and I can live off of this and I can build relationships and take care of my family.”

Edwards starts his new career Monday. He’s focused on improving his own circumstances in order to provide a better life for his daughters.

“I have four girls, so I’ve got to take care of them,” Edwards said. “I gotta do what I gotta do as a man and as a father.”