The phrase, “Everyone begins somewhere”, often refers to the first step on any number of paths to career success. Florida International University (FIU) Moss Department of Construction Management College of Engineering and Computing in collaboration with the Homestead Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will provide such an opportunity as an entry into construction.
Free classes are set to begin Monday, October 18, 2021 at the Phichol Williams Community Center, 951 SW 4th St, Homestead. The six-month pre-apprenticeship classes will be held twice a week and requests for application information can be sent to Victoria E. Tomas, MMPA, Senior Project Manager, Construction Trades Certificate Program, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 305-348-3537.
Courses will be in Electrical and Sprinkler Fitting and can accommodate at least twenty students. Training is a mix of classroom as well as hands-on and graduates will receive certificates in OSHA 30 in Construction; NCCER Core Curriculum; NCCER Level 1 in either Electricity or Sprinkler Fitting; and the Florida Department of Education for Pre-apprentice.
[By way of background, the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) Core Curriculum is a prerequisite to all other Level 1 craft curriculum.]
Classroom instruction will cover Jobsite Safety; Construction Math; Hand and Power Tools; Construction Drawings; and Material Handling. Hands-on training is a core component of the course, and the program includes employment assistance.
“We have a lot of good contacts in the industry,” Tomas explains. “Our completion rate in the courses is above 80% and we have graduated more than 700 students since 2018, plus we maintain follow-up for a year following training.”
Although FIU originally teamed with the Lennar Corporation Construction Trades 14-Week Program, and still works with them, FIU sought and obtained grant funding to establish their Certificate Program on Construction Trades as a separate endeavor.
“The community workforce development program trains workers to fill the demand for construction jobs in South Florida. The program is designed to serve South Florida communities in need of job opportunities.
Construction is among the nation’s top five industries for good jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree.
Construction work in Florida ranks among the top industries for well-paying jobs. In Florida, there are more than 141,000 construction jobs with average salaries of $52,000, and jobs are expected to grow 12 percent by 2026.” (https://constructiontrades.fiu.edu/general-page)
The total number of trades taught through the program are Electrical, Sprinkler Fitting, Carpentry, Plumbing, Heavy Equipment Operator, Solar Panel Installation, and Construction Craft Labor. The decision to focus on Electrical and Sprinkler Fitting for the initial Homestead program was based on employment demand.
Individuals aged eighteen and older are eligible for the free training.
According to one of the informational notices from the City of Homestead, “The programs are part of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program; launched with Federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funding to
assist communities affected by Hurricane Irma, the Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program trains Floridians in the construction trades necessary to support disaster recovery efforts.”
Lucia Soria, Chairwoman, South Dade Chamber of Commerce, and Founder and President of Ram-Tech Construction is helping spread the word through the Chamber’s network of businesses and individuals. "The Chamber is happy to work with our community partners to come back stronger together through educational opportunities and local resources."
An added dimension to facilitating individuals into the construction profession is a commitment to increasing the number of women in the trades. Soria has a long-standing relationship with FIU and Senior Project Manager Tomas. Both are active in The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and encourage young women to consider construction as a career.
In another local connection, Tomas will be a guest speaker in the near future with the Homestead Soroptomists as part of their on-going efforts to help young girls and women gain economic empowerment through traditional and non-traditional fields.