The founder of the state's first construction college says that although the school offers training in trades to minorities - including offering translators - enrollment is open to all.
"The school is open to everyone who wants training in trades and construction," said Eddie LavuLavu, president of Utah Trades and Contractors College, 241 W. Center. "I want to make it clear that our doors are open to everyone, not just minorities."The college opened in January for test classes. The first test class of 21 students has been licensed, and since then, another 14 out of 20 who have taken the state's contractor exam have managed to pass the test.
LavuLavu said those numbers are "not bad," but that the school could do better. However, he said state officials are ecstatic "to have that number of new businesses in Utah," especially since six of those first 21 students had previously been cited for working without contractors licenses.
"They say they have been really pleased with the results so far, and we are really pleased with the cooperation and help we have received."
The school formally opens for general enrollment Monday, April 15, and will hold its grand opening on Friday, April 19. During those ceremonies, which begin at 5 p.m., Lt. Gov. Val Oveson will present the school's graduates with certificates of completion. A luau, including traditional Polynesian dancing, will be held afterward.
The school has five full-size classrooms, a study hall, a library and a game room for its students. In addition to its 35 different trades classes, the college also offers a course in English as a second language.
For the latter classes, the school relies on translators from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elsewhere, the college provides instruction from sources such as retired university professors, local contractors and business law experts. LavuLavu himself is a licensed general contractor and engineer.
State licensing procedures require applicants to pass a written exam, have a minimum amount of experience, file a financial statement and pay licensing fees. However, many applicants are unable to complete those procedures because of a variety of reasons, he said.
The school will help its students complete the licensing procedures, as well as "make sure that they are quality contractors who are skilled in their fields," LavuLavu said. "We aren't just here so students can get their contracting licenses."
Full-year tuition ranges between $500 to $2,500, depending on the level of training needed and also the student's ability to pay. The school also has information for financial aid, according to LavuLavu. Enrollment is open-ended, meaning students can enter at any time.
Unlike most junior colleges or their equivalents, the school does not require a high school diploma. To graduate, students must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours, with up to 300 credit hours required for some skill levels.
Besides the Utah license, the school also now offers training to become licensed in California, Nevada and/or Hawaii, since contractors often look for work there after conditions put a damper on construction in Utah.
Though the school has a part-time office in Salt Lake, 317 E. 900 South, more than 80 percent of the Provo students come from parts north. LavuLavu said he would eventually like to open an equivalent full-time school in Salt Lake.
Eventually, he would like the school to become the first in the state to offer the new associate degree in occupational science.
The school is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the college holds its practical field experience sessions on Saturdays. For more information, contact the school at 373-1986.