According to the Associated General Contractors of America, “Construction is now commonly cited as one of the hardest industries to recruit and retain talent.” In fact, experts predict that 31 million positions will be left vacant across the United States by 2020 due to the retirement of skilled workers.

What’s being done to fill this gap? What are we doing locally to help young people prepare for this in-demand industry?

There are several options for young people ages 16-24 to receive free construction training.

  • Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center (YV Tech) offers a carpentry/construction program for students from area high schools, private schools and GED programs. GED students can be completing their GED or have completed the GED course, provided they are between the ages of 16 and 20. YV TECH classes are free (www.yvtech.com).
  • Fort Simcoe Job Corps offers courses in carpentry and masonry. Job Corps offers no-cost education and training to young people ages 16 to 24. Job Corps is open to U.S. citizens, legal residents, and those with work visas. Students can earn a high school diploma, GED or college credits. They also receive on-site housing, meals, basic medical care, and a living allowance, all at no cost. After graduation, a career transition specialist will help them make the transition to employment. Orientations are offered Tuesdays at 3 p.m. at WorkSource Yakima County (worksourcewa.com) or email diaz.reggie@jobcorps.org.
  • YouthBuild offers construction training for low-income young people ages 16-24 who are U.S. citizens. Youths receive hands-on training to start a career in construction, along with the opportunity to attain a GED, other certifications/credentials, the opportunity to build a house, and a chance to develop leadership skills. OIC offers Youthbuild Yakima (www.yvoic.org) and Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic offers Youthbuild Yakima Valley to residents of White Swan, Harrah, Toppenish, Wapato, Granger, Mabton and Grandview (www.yvfwc.com).
  • The South Central Workforce Council recently developed a pre-apprenticeship program to help out-of-school young adults ages 18-24 explore careers in the construction industry. Through a new partnership with the Northwest Carpenters Institute, young adults have a chance to enter into a no-cost, three-week pre-apprenticeship program beginning this month. The class runs from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily until August and teaches construction work skills, math and safety protocol. Upon successful completion of the hands-on course, the student will receive preferred entry into the Carpenters Union apprenticeship program to continue their construction career. For those not interested in a formal apprenticeship, the skills gained in this class will help them successfully compete in the construction industry. Class size is limited, and only a few spots remain. Contact Israel at People for People (509-248-6726) for more information.

Michelle Smith is an employer engagement analyst for the South Central Workforce Development Council in Yakima.