DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver has nearly $1 billion in projects planned over the next 10 years. A new program could solve a labor shortage in the construction industry while providing an opportunity to residents in search of new careers.
The city announced its Construction Career Pilot Program following the approval of a $94 million Peña Boulevard widening project. The newly approved contract with Interstate Highway Construction, Inc. requires the firm to ensure that 15% of all construction hours are performed by apprentices.
“With all these city projects lined up back to back over the next decade, apprentices will be able to move from project to project as they build their skills and their career,” said Tony Anderson, Denver’s Director of Workforce Services.
Residents interested in a construction apprenticeship should begin their journey at work-now.org. WORKNOW provides jobseekers with integrated resources including supportive services, industry job training, connections to open positions and community resources.
“It was a four week program. It flew by, but it was difficult. It got me out of my comfort zone,” said Gilbert Duran, a graduate of a construction course he found through WORKNOW.
“It changed my life,” he said.
After 14 years in the automotive industry, Duran decided he needed a reboot. WORKNOW provides him with the resources he needed for his new career in construction.
Denver is connecting contractors with the WORKNOW workforce development platform to find apprentices for city projects.
“People that maybe didn’t have experience, came in and participated in preapprentice training. They’re now working in the construction industry,” said Anderson.
The program is meant to provide career opportunities for several targeted populations including veterans, Colorado Works (TANF) program recipients, those exiting the foster care system and people who have experienced homelessness.
“An apprenticeship allows for career pathways, wage growth and milestones along the way. It’s an earn-while-you-learn opportunity,” said Anderson.
The program will focus on an estimated 15 major projects over the next three years, including the Colorado Convention Center expansion, key National Western Center facilities, significant construction at Denver International Airport and select Elevate Denver Bond Program projects including Washington St. reconstruction, Denver Police Station District 5, Denver Central Library renovations, Green Valley Ranch pool, and 56th Ave. roadway improvements.
For more information on joining the construction career program, visit work-now.org.