New Construction Program Aims to Train Hireable Workers Within Six Weeks
By Joshua Cole
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Between new construction and post-Ian repairs, contractors and construction employers find hiring difficult.
A rapid response program started in Fort Myers is getting adult students trained and ready for work on a job site in just six weeks.
The SWFL Enterprise Center, Florida Masonry Apprentice and Education Foundation, Lowes, and groups like Rehabilitation Heart have created the course to respond to post-natural disaster needs.
“But when there’s a natural disaster such as the one that occurred here locally, the thing is you don’t have the workforce on the ground ready to be deployed, so it brought in from other places,” said Sean McCoy, Ph.D. and Executive Director of the Florida Masonry Apprentice and Educational Foundation.
McCoy’s goal is to get people living in SWFL into construction jobs.
“We have a class going on right now, in the back here, where there are folks that have volunteered their time to come in and get everything done that is needed to get those certifications,” said Phyllis Calloway, director of the SWFL Enterprise Center.
The Rapid Recovery Construction Academy is training people to get the necessary industry-ready credentials to get hired – tuition free. This first class of 50 teaches things like welding, working with auto glass, and more.
The Enterprise Center already works with Lee County High Schools to get students into the trade professions. Calloway hopes to expand this program to work with Fort Myers Police and veterans services groups to recruit adults who also need jobs.
Their goal is to have a system to train workers anywhere to fill jobs after natural disasters.
“This is a pilot project that we could scale to utilize in a lot of disaster areas all over the United States beyond this. That’s why its so important to do this right in the initial phase of this,” said Matt Clark with the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
“So we’re building the workforce of tomorrow that’s gonna rebuild Fort Myers,” said McCoy. “There’s few and far between of trades programs across the United States, but we’re seeing a growth in trades.”
This class graduates in April. The program is already talking with and looking for more contractors and construction employers to get them hired immediately and working.