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Non-profit working to build the future of the construction industry

Hiring Hoosiers
Posted: 5:30 AM, Jan 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-30 05:30:47-05
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Hiring Hoosiers is a new initiative from RTV6 that works to connect Hoosiers to employment opportunities, career development resources, training programs and educational paths. In our Hiring Hoosiers reports we are taking a closer look at barriers to employment and things that get in the way of people getting the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. For more information, visit HiringHoosiers.com.

INDIANAPOLIS — The construction industry had another robust year in 2018 with more than 13,900 new positions created, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Construction is expected to be one of the fastest growing job sectors for Hoosiers in 2019.

The Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation is working to break down the barriers for people with no construction experience to land those jobs.

"Right now we are working on these things, the six footers to put up some beams and things like that," Michael Brannon, a first-year apprentice carpenter at Wilhelm Construction, said.

This hands-on job is a perfect fit for this 18-year-old recent Lawrence North High School graduate. Brannon got the job shortly after finishing high school. He did a free training program with the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation.

The BY Program bridges the gap of entry-level workers to employers in the Indianapolis market.

"I got 20 job offers when I was there, but I picked here because I felt comfortable here," Brannon said.

The commitment for the program is fairly minimal. This next class is starting at Southeastern Community Center in February. It is a six-week class and the students will meet twice a week from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and have two Saturday labs.

LEARN MORE | Apply to the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation BY Program

"This class is going to give people an introduction to safety, that doubles as the OSHA 10 certificate," Chris Price, the president of the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation, said. "Students will also get an introduction to construction math, a lot of soft skills training, basic communication skills, hand tools, power tools, and basic rigging."

Price and the ICRF are working to fill the gap of workers needed in this field by looking to recruit people who may not have the contacts to get into the construction industry.

"It is a great opportunity for someone to get credentialed," Price said. "I think the key to our program is that everyday in class you are going to interact with a new employer and at the end of this program, you are going to meet with all those employers that you met, at a hiring event, and get hired."

The ICRF was created in 2015 to meet the needs of the worker shortages in the industry, a number that is continuing to grow.

"The state of Indiana is now projecting an overall industry shortage of 146,000 people by 2026," Price said. "That kind of seems insurmountable, and how can we fill that kind of need. And in order to fill that need, we need to think differently and we need to think about how can we help people, how can we find the people that would really benefit from the jobs that earn $16 to $24 an hour."

This past fall, the ICRF hosted their first training class, with 17 graduates all getting multiple job offers at the end of the course. Brannon was in that first graduating class.

"If we don't fill these positions, the cost of construction is going to go up and also projects are going to be delayed," Price said. "And that affects everyone."

The BY Program requires students to be at least 18 years old, pass a drug screen, and consent to a background check. Price says even if students have something on their record, they are still encouraged to do the program to get an opportunity to get back into the workforce.

It is an opportunity opening a door for Hoosiers to continue to build Indiana communities both physically and economically.

"I get to interact with some people that I probably would have never met in life," Brannon said. "Give it a try because it is going to be worth it, because it is the best you are going to get."

This program gives students exposure to commercial construction, both union and merit shop employers. As well as exposure to highway construction and residential construction.

The next set of classes start in February in Indianapolis, and programs are being scheduled in Martinsville and Anderson. The ICRF is planning to provide the program across the state by the end of the year.

It is currently free for students as tuition is getting covered through grants and private/public funding.

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