JOBS have been one of the big promises of the looming construction boom in the Clarence Valley, and born and bred Grafton locals Paul Phillips and Ricky Brown have hopes to be among the early beneficiaries.

The pair, who have known each other for many years, were among 50 graduates who yesterday celebrated receiving their Certificate III in Civil Constructions (Plant Operations), a qualification that will have them in line to fill jobs on the $6 billion Pacific Hwy upgrade or the construction of the second Grafton bridge.

Mr Phillips is in his 50s and Mr Brown is aged 48, and both had been struggling to find work before the course, but now are in a position to start new careers.

"I was made redundant at the jail and I've been doing bits and pieces here and there," Mr Brown said.

"It's harder when you are older and you have to retrain and with the road works going on civil construction seems to be what will be heading to our area more than anything else.

"Now we know a lot more about the machinery and how to use it, it's all good."

After initial classroom training, the graduates are now competent in operating excavators, dozers, loaders, bobcats, rollers and haul trucks.

The class completed an intensive 12-week course organised as part of a partnership between All Excavations Training, Grafton Ngierre Local Area Land Council and North Coast TAFE.

Andy Irvine, TAFE program manager of the resources and infrastructure section, said there were about 180 people studying at the Lanitza training site, and all have good prospects of finding work on big construction projects during the next five years.

"There was half a dozen of them missing today because there were at work and have already started," he said.

"We're seeing great job outcomes.

"We have 180 going through now and have a wait list of about the same, and there is a much bigger version of this coming in Grafton in the next six months. We just had to get started because the demand was there."



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