DENVER — Despite having already broken ground on the highly-publicized $1.2 billion Central-70 project on August 3, 2018, the construction workforce shortage in Colorado continues to remain at the forefront of local contractors’ top concerns. According to the Associated General Contractors of America 2018 Construction Outlook Survey for Colorado, 73 percent of Colorado construction firms noted that finding and hiring qualified construction professionals will continue to be difficult and even become more challenging for the rest of 2018 and into next year. Construction Careers Now (CCN) presents one solution to this construction labor shortage issue with 832 graduates since its inception in September 2016. Sixty-six percent of CCN graduates have been hired or are pursuing continued education in construction.
The Central-70 project has been identified as the largest construction project in the state per the Colorado Department of Transportation and is projected to create an estimated $17.8 billion in economic impacts and generate an estimated 5,000 additional jobs in Colorado. As construction projects of this nature continue to break ground throughout the state, from the $1.5 billion gate and concourse expansion at the Denver International Airport to the $756 million National Western Stockshow project, the strain on the construction workforce is apparent.
“The latest AGC construction employment report from July 2018 shows Colorado construction employment grew a mere 3.7 percent in the last year, which is a declining rate of growth. Our analysis indicates that the construction employment percentage increase would be higher in Colorado if the trained workforce were available,” commented Michael Gifford, president and CEO of AGC of Colorado. In order to ensure the necessary construction workforce is obtainable for these large construction projects throughout Colorado, programs like CCN need continued support.
From September 2016 to August 2018, CCN has offered 20 individual four-week long training programs to Colorado citizens with an introduction to the construction trades. These classes, which are no cost to participants, will continue into 2019, each with their own hiring fair at the end of every course that brings local construction firms face to face with the soon-to-be graduates, and provides both contractors and students an opportunity to grow within the construction industry.
To support projects like Central-70, CCN has partnered with Colorado Resource (CORE) Partners for their WORKNOW employment platform that provides families living in Denver metro neighborhoods impacted by regional infrastructure construction projects a means to benefit from those project opportunities.
One such local hire CCN graduate who benefited from the WORKNOW program includes Jessia Welsh, who moved from Dallas to Colorado four years ago without any promising job prospects. “I always thought that if I could get started in construction, it would be a place where I could really grow in my career. Construction Careers Now gave me that leg-up to enter the industry beyond just pushing a broom on a job-site,” commented Ms. Welsh. She graduated from CCN in May 2018 with the assistance of emergency services from WORKNOW, like receiving free construction boots, gas cards and grocery gift cards. Ms. Welsh was hired the day immediately after the CCN Hiring Fair for her May class and is now working as the first woman laborer in the demolition division at Colorado Cleanup Corporation.
For local contractors looking to take advantage of CCN’s workforce development efforts to supply the industry with new construction personnel, contact Bryan Cook, Chapter Operations Director, at AGC of Colorado at 303-388-2422. Interested participants can apply for the CCN program at BuildColorado.com/CCN