The Wisconsin Job Center and Lakeshore Technical College gave a select group of prisoners at the Oshkosh Correctional Facility a rare opportunity, to be the very first participants in a brand new mobile manufacturing training program.
Manufacturing CEO John Davis of the Great Northern Company has never hired a convicted felon before.
"You know we haven't. This is sort of a new experiment."
Davis needs skilled workers to fill his current job openings and these soon-to-be released Oshkosh prison inmates want the job.
"A lot of us are hungry to learn," says inmate Shea Keagle.
Only 10 out of 2,000 inmates were chosen to participate in the first Advanced Manufacturing Mobile Lab. Keagle, who will be released in June, is one of them.
"I was definitely proud and I called my mother and my father. I let them both know right away," says Keagle.
It's an intensive curriculum taught by a Lakeshore Technical College instructor for 6 hours a day, Monday through Friday.
This program is very hands on. Every day they are given a different prop to work. The program also required advanced math skills, which Keagle didn't have, but a fellow inmate tutored him after class.
"So we'd sit down from 7:30pm to 10:30 at night until I was caught up," said Keagle.
That work ethic impressed Davis.
"They worked together on the math problems! I mean that's the manufacturing environment, it's a team based sport," says Davis.
Next Friday the participants will receive a certificate, 6 college credits ... and hope.
"Having this certification will hopefully maybe weigh out the differences of my past," says Keagle adding that he plans to continue his education upon his release in June.
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