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Contractors’ class recruits workers

John Seelmeyer

Taking a fresh approach to attract new workers into the construction trades, the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.

Sierra Nevada Chapter next week launches a five-week program to introduce workers to the industry.

After spreading the word through high schools, governmentsponsored employment programs and private labor contractors, ABC’s first class of 20 is nearly filled.

Those 20 students will meet for four hours, four evenings a week, to polish their job skills and learn about careers in the construction industry.

The program is free to the participants.

A key element of the class is review of core math skills that may have gotten rusty, says Richard Sheridan, business development director for the ABC chapter.

Participants also will learn about the use of hand tools and complete a 10-hour training in safety, first aid and CPR.

“We’re giving people a chance to come in and upgrade their skills,” Sheridan says.”If nothing else, they will bring up their skills and make themselves more employable.”

Students who do well and develop an interest in construction, he says,may be offered internships at ABC member companies.

(ABC members are merit-shop contractors.) Sheridan says the program targets 17- to 22-year-olds, particularly those who recently finished high school but don’t have plans for college.

Part of the purpose of the careers program, he says, is to disprove some of the stereotypes about construction employment that may have led young workers to stay away from the industry.

The issue is particularly important for contractors, Sheridan says, as the combination of a growing demand for workers and a wave of retirements among Baby Boomers in the industry creates a labor crunch.

ABC plans a second, 20-person session of the program later this year.