Cities Pave Way for Construction Careers

January 9, 2019
Low-angle shot of apartment building in Milwaukee, Wisc.
Photo: Unsplash/Lucas Ludwig

With the ongoing shortage of skilled labor, community groups and city leaders, along with developers are initiating programs that offer residents careers in construction.

The Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk's 2018 national survey says that 80 percent of contractors are having difficulty finding skilled employees, and competition is growing as December 2018 had some of the most employment growth in the past 10 years, per the latest Labor dataThe New York Times reports that in major markets with a dearth of affordable housing like Denver, Miami, and San Francisco; as well as in smaller markets like Milwaukee, programs offering construction careers are gaining steam.

Cream City-based apartment developer Gorman & Company is working with city, state, and local agencies to give former inmates on-the-job training while rehabilitating foreclosed and run-down structures, that are in turn leased to low-income rental households. “There’s a very limited number of jobs that people re-entering society can do, but they are key to our success,” says Gorman president of the Wisconsin market Ted Matkom, adding, “they can earn a good wage and are motivated.”

WorkNow, an 18-month-old platform of the Center for Workforce Initiatives at the Community College of Denver, is providing hiring support and training for the project and others. In 2017, WorkNow began recruiting workers for a $1.2 billion, 10-mile overhaul of Interstate 70 in Denver. With the help of $1 million from a philanthropy tied to the Colorado oilman Sam Gary, the organization placed 56 workers into registered apprenticeships and provided 190 experienced construction workers with additional training in its first fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

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