A free construction program will begin in August on the Near West and Near Northwest sides of Indianapolis.

A collaboration between The Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation (ICRF), Hawthorne Community Center and Browning Investments has brought the program, Build Your NW, to fruition.

The construction industry, as many may argue, will always have careers in high demand as businesses grow and expand.

However, two specific demographics seem to lack the opportunities necessary to succeed in construction: the Black community and women.

“One of our organizational values is diversity: particularly increasing diversity in the construction industry both from a racial perspective and from a gender perspective,” said Nate Klinck, executive director at ICRF. “Both Black and other people of color are highly underrepresented in the industry, I think the number is 8 to 9%. Women probably represent 9 or 10% of the workforce.”

The program will train these minority groups, and any others who are interested, to enter the construction industry. Once they complete the program, participants will leave with job-ready skills for workplace success, networking opportunities and a chance to secure a high-paying career.

Much of the inspiration for Build Your NW came from a similar program ICRF established in late 2018 — the BY Construction Training program. After consistently hearing construction companies were in need of individuals to fill openings, ICRF decided that something needed to be done.

“Since we launched the BY program, we’ve had about 12 different classes in Indy, and have trained over 250 individuals, and helped a large number of them get well-paying jobs within the construction industry,” Klinck added. “On average, over 60% of the people who complete the program, we’re able to place into jobs. Their average wages are $16 an hour and above, plus benefits.”

David McMath, project manager at Browning Investments, said Browning immediately felt inspired by the success of the BY program. “Essentially, we said ‘We want to bring your program, with a little spice to it, over to the near-west and northwest side.’ We wanted to be involved somehow,” he said.

McMath hopes the new Build Your NW program will dispel the negative reputation he feels hovers over the construction industry.

“Growing up, we heard ‘You’ve gotta go to college.’ In the construction industry, you don’t have to go to college to have a career.” McMath noted. “Because of this, I think a lot of people overlook construction — but it’s not an easy industry by any stretch. We wanted to do something different and be a part of the community, not just go to meetings and help with community cleanups.”

Participants will leave the program having earned two of the most important occupational certifications needed in the industry — NCCER Core and OSHA-10 — making them card-carrying individuals.

In addition, they’ll be able to network with local construction firms at the end of the program during a construction job fair, organized in a way that mimics ‘speed-dating.’ Each participant will have the chance to be interviewed by representatives and potentially secure a job.

Contact newsroom intern Mikaili Azziz at 317-924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @mikailiazziz.

Learn the construction trade

The Build Your NW construction training program, starts Aug. 5. The program consists of 16 classes from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.

To apply, visit https://bytraining.arlo.co, or call 317-805-1037 for more information.

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