Center teaches building maintenance skills
A tiny building complete with everything from masonry to drywall texture takes shape from the ground up every few months in the back room of Reno’s Center for Employment Training.
The modest structure not much bigger than an elaborate child’s playhouse provides a big boost to the working lives of many of its students.
Typically, said Director Michael O’Massey, students at the nonprofit center arrive when they’ve grown weary of unskilled labor.
The Center for Employment part of a group of about 20 facilities with the same name along the West Coast gives them the basic skills they need to begin climbing the career ladder.
The building maintenance program, for instance, includes 180 hours of training in basic math and the vocabulary of building maintenance.
Students devote 140 hours to carpentry, 140 hour to electrical work and 140 hours to plumbing.
Other coursework includes interior and exterior maintenance, blueprint reading and safety standards.
“We’re showing them how to do it the right way,” said O’Massey.
Students usually take about six months to complete the course.
About 60 percent of the graduates of the course take work in building maintenance.
Most of the rest look for construction jobs.
“We don’t guarantee them jobs, but we will help place them,” O’Massey said.
“If employers are looking for qualified entry-level positions, we can help.”
Along with the skills they need to take a job, the Center for Employment Training makes sure its students have good work habits.
They are required, for instance, to swipe an ID card through a reader at the start of their school day, and the school emphasizes the need for attendance.
Along with the building maintenance program, the center provides classes in warehouse operation.
Hands-on forklift safety training as well as the process of picking and shipping orders get students ready for the region’s logistics and distribution industries.
Others among the two dozen or so students at the center at any given time are learning basic office skills ranging from Microsoft software operation to filing.
Elsewhere in the 10,000-square-foot center at 520 Evans Ave., the Northern Nevada Literacy Council provides literacy training and Washoe High School provides training for the GED high school equivalency test.
The center tries to assemble government money everything from state job-training funds to federal education grants to pay for students’ education.
The business community, meanwhile, provides two important services, O’Massey said.
He relies on members of the business community who are willing to devote a few hours a year to reviewing the center’s curriculum to make sure it meets current needs in the workplace.
And some businesses, he said, donate materials to help with educational programs.
After all, that tiny building that students are constructing today soon will be torn down so the next class can have a crack at it.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.