DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Transportation is gearing up for a major project that will change the landscape of Interstate 70 through the central part of Denver.
The Central 70 Project will dramatically impact the community from Colorado Boulevard to Brighton Boulevard. Now, CDOT is hiring those who live there.
On Wednesday, it was hands-on training for those learning to operate backhoes. The free training is a real benefit to the community which would normally cost some $1,000.
“The Central 70 Project is by itself a major economic driver for the entire Denver-metro region. CDOT wanted to also ensure that these economic and job opportunities were made available to local residents,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. “CDOT is one of only a few DOTs in the nation to implement local hiring and we are doing this not just by setting hiring goals but by actively reaching out to our partners to create a comprehensive support system that makes a career in construction accessible for everyone.”
The zero cost training was part of the agreement with the Central 70 Project, the City of Denver and an investment from Gary Community Investments.
It requires 20 percent of the Central 70 work force, the equivalent of approximately 350 local residents, to be hired from 15 local neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 in Denver and Aurora.
The neighborhood career training and resource center, which opened in July, doesn’t just offer physical construction training. It offer six courses in a facility with three work bays, four hands-on training rooms and a yard designated for heavy equipment. It also offers support services, including an on-site financial counselor.
The center will also hosts networking opportunities, including job fairs for construction careers, access to CDOT maintenance job listings and, beginning in 2018, outreach for Central 70 job openings.
“It’s just really nice, doing this. It’s free and the state is sponsoring us, this help us so much… it’s exciting,” said trainee Abdulai Sheriff.
There is a huge need in the construction industry in Colorado for well-trained men and women. The hope is that this training will translate to other projects across the state.
“The infrastructure needs, not just for Central 70, but for practically everything that we’ve got going on in the state is vital to have people. And people that hopefully have a little bit better idea of what’s going on on a construction site,” said Colorado Construction Association Manager of Training Moses Alvarez.
There is a job fair for the Central 70 Project from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. The training center is in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood at 3600 E. 46th Ave., which formerly housed Anderson Drilling.
“Nationally we are all looking for more skilled workers,” said Alvarez. “The construction industry is horribly short on people that know what they’re doing.”