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Connecting Construction Employers to Job-ready Talent

Posted on December 16th, 2018 in Events, Success Story

The Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation (ICRF) is aware of the impending workforce shortage within the industry and is working with EmployIndy to solve it. ICRF recently partnered with the John H. Boner Community Center to offer a BY Training Class to bolster the construction workforce through free training, culminating with a hiring event attended by businesses that EmployIndy brought to fill their in-demand positions.

ICRF President Chris Price describes BY as “a six-week training program that aims to help people by teaching them the basic skills needed to succeed in the construction industry,” such as using hand tools and power tools, basic safety, construction math, introduction to blueprints, basic rigging, and various soft skills. The course helps job-seekers not only enter the construction industry, but advance to the journeyman-level much quicker than usual. Upon completing the class, participants obtain their NCCER and OSHA10 certifications and CCS cards.

According to ICRF, “the construction industry is uniquely positioned to connect with people of all backgrounds and to provide people living in poverty with a pathway to the middle class.” High paying construction jobs generally have few barriers to entry, which is important for residents in EmployIndy’s strategic target impact areas. The BY training focused on incorporating formerly convicted felons, women, and minorities into the construction workforce, a form of inclusive growth championed by EmployIndy that helps both residents and employers simultaneously.

“I see this as a great entry into the industry” says Janice Bernard, who learned about BY through her WorkOne Indy career navigator. “I hope to position myself for a long-term career in project management or risk management and compliance.”

Other community-based organizations are talking about BY’s success, and Southeast Community Services is already making plans to replicate the training program at their location. Tracy Hartman, an Employer Engagement Manager at EmployIndy, emphasizes the importance of the wrap-around services community centers provide to help potential participants overcome initial barriers many may struggle with. “Not only can community centers host the class,” she says, “but by teaching employability skills and offering barrier-busting funds, they set the class participants up to succeed in their new career.”

For programs like this, EmployIndy serves as an intermediary by helping to broker the relationship between employers, ICRF, and the Boner Center. Tracy Hartman promoted the BY program early on to her contacts at various businesses who became involved by presenting at the class and/or interviewing individuals at the hiring day. She also promoted the events that ICRF hosted leading up to the first day of class and she connected businesses including:

  • Custom Concrete (presented to class and attended hiring fair)
  • DECO Coatings (presented to class)
  • Gaylor Electric (presented to class and attended hiring fair)
  • F. A. Wilhelm Construction (presented to class and attended hiring fair)
  • Shiel Sexton (attended hiring fair)

In order to bring the BY class to the attention of potential participants, EmployIndy shared information with frontline career services workers around Indy and on social media. BY flyers were also directly shared by WorkOne career navigators, promoted at various job fairs and rapid response events, and it was heavily encouraged to organizations working with the re-entry population. The effectiveness of this influence became clear after hearing from participants on hiring day, as all were able to reflect back on learning about the program from a wide array of players in Marion County’s Workforce Ecosystem.

The course had interesting ways of vetting participants for employers. On the first day of class, every participant signed an accountability contract stating that they would always be early for class, remain drug free, and participate actively. Each individual received an accountability score that started at 100 and lost points if they had an unexcused absence or were tardy, as communication was stressed to better simulate a work environment. A list of all participants and their accountability scores were shared with employers at the hiring day.

By the end of the hiring day, every participant received at least one job offer with a starting hourly wage of $17 or more.

For participants like Robert Dowdy, the impact excites him for his future. “For the past 5 years I have been working in retail, and it took that long to work my way up to $19.25 an hour,” he says. “but after this class, I received a job offer starting at $20 an hour, only to go up from there.”

EmployIndy will share information about the next class when the 2019 application goes live – so be sure to follow on social media and sign up for our newsletter. The course is being planned for a February start. Employers interested in teaming up with the BY Training Class by presenting at the class and/or interviewing participants for job openings should connect with Tracy Hartman, EmployIndy’s Employer Engagement Manager focused on the construction industry.