By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – With an increase in construction job opportunities and some people rethinking their careers, the Colorado Homebuilding Academy is hoping to be an on-ramp into the industry. CHA provides hands-on training and job placement for people wanting to pursue careers in construction.

The academy will also waive class fees for people seriously interested in construction and offers scholarships to cover other costs.

READ MORE: Karrar Noaman Al Khammasi Sentenced To 45 Years In Prison For Shooting Of Colorado Springs Police Officer Cem Duzel

(credit: CBS)

“There’s definitely an opportunity for somebody to get in at an entry level, increase their level of education, and move into a career pathway,” said Damon DiFabio, the director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy.

After two years of selling tacos and agua fresca at the family food truck, Pancho’s Birria y Mas, Perla Nunez is ready for a change. While she enjoys working as a cashier around her loved ones, she has bigger dreams.

“What I want to do is be a project manager,” Nunez said. “I’ve wanted to do that since I was in sixth grade. I liked construction, skyscrapers, and it’s something that interests me a lot.”

Nunez is now on that path, thanks to the CHA. Over the past few weeks, she’s completed a boot camp and carpentry class.

“Typically, we see people who may be underemployed, unemployed, and maybe career shifters,” said DiFabio.

READ MORE: Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting Suspect Robert Dear Ruled Incompetent

According to DiFabio, interest in the academy has been high since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but while the industry is growing, and jobs are increasingly available, only a small percentage of young adults are pursuing careers in construction.

(credit: CBS)

“We have employers all the time who come to the academy letting us know they need help, and we’re trying every day to give them good, skilled employees,” he said.

Nunez could soon be just that, with more training and a little personal growth.

“I don’t like heights, but I know I can overcome that fear,” Nunez said.

The dreams she cooked up years ago may now be more attainable than ever before.

“She’s energetic and she’s ambitious, and those are the kind of people the construction industry needs and wants,” DiFabio said.

MORE NEWS: Denver To Replace 8th Avenue Bridge Over South Platte River

Nunez says she’s going to take more classes before joining the industry. When she finally does, she plans to still help at the family food truck on weekends.

Conor McCue