Youth Construction Trades Project Has a Successful Start

Jim Cox of JC Contractors met the students at the Broadway Bridget project in Boise, explaining the details about the job.

Jim Cox of JC Contractors met the students at the Broadway Bridge project in Boise, explaining the details about the job.

Twelve individuals are one step closer to beginning their career in the construction industry after an intensive training program.

Over two weeks earlier this summer, these 12 students participated in a youth construction training project using  Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program funds.

The project blends the employment needs of youth with in-demand local construction industry jobs and consists of prescreened, low income and/or at-risk youth 18- to 24-years-old who have obtained their high school diploma or GED.

“I signed up for the program because it’s very beneficial for me or anyone else who wants to be successful and have a career,” said Stratton Nzansabandi, 19. “Once you get out of high school most of us don’t know what we’re doing, so it’s better to do this program; it’s free training, you get paid during your internship training and you get to start a career.”

By the end of the training each participant will have completed 80 hours (2 weeks) of construction trades classroom skills instruction taught by the National Center for Construction and Education, followed by 200 hours of an internship on Associated Builders and Contractors approved job sites.

During the paid internship, all individuals received pay for their attendance as well as boots, tools and other miscellaneous items.

“The experience has been very good, I’m getting my resume worked on and I’m learning new communication skills. I feel like I’m ready to do it,” Nzansabandi said. “One thing I took away from this is respect and safety, not just touching whatever’s on the ground and paying attention to everything. In this world you’ve got to have communication skills and this taught me (the importance) of that.”

The training also includes youth-focused job search assistance with individual interview opportunities and critiques.

“What was awesome … is the employers came in and interviewed other participants as well as their (specific) trainee,” said Kathy Smethers, Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultant. “They received a lot of help with their resumes from the department as well.”

According to Smethers, this experience prepared the youth for interviews with contractors who visit the last day of instruction to select an intern and future employers.

Smethers, who recruited the individuals for this program, believes the pilot program has been a success.

“This is the pilot project, but there’s talk about doing it in different areas of the state as well as Boise, and expanding the age range because there’s such a shortage in the construction industry,” Smethers said. “The people who have heard about it are pretty excited and we’re trying to change the image of the construction industry. We want people to realize these are well-paying, stable jobs.”

— Sean Bunce,
Idaho Department of Labor