construction worker

Advocates Help Fill Construction Worker Labor Gap

NBC Universal, Inc.

For 22-year-old Calvin Morgan-White it was like a light went off.

“I just saw everything that went into it and it fascinated me,” Morgan-White said.

Calvin had worked for a construction cleaning company but it wasn’t until he connected with the Built With Our Hands organization that he realized his full professional potential.

“I found out that there’s a big gap and there’s a need for workers and people that are motivated and there isn’t a lot of opportunities out there, at least where I’m from to get my foot in the door,” Morgan-White said.

The Hartford native is the first to receive the organization’s sponsorship to the Construction Education Center in Plainville, which will cover the cost of the first year of Calvin’s four-year training program to become an electrician.

“My whole thing was how can we shorten that gap to get them on track to live a better life than the life that they were destined for,” Drew Edwards, one of the organization’s founders, said.

Edwards says many inner-city kids often struggle with the burden of facing a black hole of debt after getting a four-year college degree but he says trade schools can be a way to success, faster.

“If they’re not working in their trade, they own their own business in that trade, and a significant amount of these kids that I went to school with and some of them that graduated, they’re starting on making six figures,” Edwards said.

“Fifty-four percent of the construction industry is going to be retired by the year 2036, so as people come in, they’re learning now, they’re honing their skills, they’ll be able to take over for those people who are retiring,” Marci Addy, Director of Education at the Construction Education Center said.

Addy says the trade school, now in its 15th year, has seen a 71% increase in enrollment over the past five years.

“They can earn their on-the-job training hours which is necessary for their license and their paycheck and do their learning and their earning concurrently,” Addy said.

Altogether, Addy says the cost of a four-year tuition for apprentices like Calvin is less than $10,000 and often their employers will help cover some of the costs, setting up future full-time construction workers like Calvin for structured success.

“It’s a blessing, nothing short of a blessing,” Morgan-White said.

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