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How a Chef Turned Into a Carpenter

Labor + Trade Relations

How a Chef Turned Into a Carpenter

How a career switch to the construction trades turned around the fortunes of a laid-off restaurant chef.

October 21, 2020
Carpenter framing a house

Want to read some good news for a change?  Here's a story about how a career switch to the construction trades turned around the fortunes of a laid-off restaurant chef.

Joshua Copeland contracted Covid-19 last spring and lost his sense of taste and smell. While he was recovering, his restaurant closed and laid him off. As his unemployment benefits dwindled, he saw an advertisement for the Colorado Homebuilding Academy, which offers classroom and online instruction, hands-on experience, and job site internships for high school students and adults interested in pursuing construction jobs.

 “We’re getting more calls right now than we ever have,” said Damon DiFabio, Academy director. “Construction is a bright spot in the economy.”

DiFabio said calls to the academy doubled at the start of the pandemic and continue to exceed normal rates. He credits the relative stability of the housing industry, compared with the rest of the economy, as a major draw.

“Especially as we were declared an essential job … people were rethinking long term and their lives, and this is maybe a job that’s steady. ‘Going forward, I can depend on it, and it’s something I want to get into long term,’” he said. 

Copeland graduated from the academy last month and is earning more money than when worked as a chef since being hired as a carpenter by national builder Taylor Morrison.

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