By Karisma Sandoval for Cronkite News
The Arizona Department of Transportation is working with education and business leaders to change a dismal statistic — more than 90 percent of workers in the construction industry are men, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
ADOT is working with community college leaders and contractors to integrate more women and minorities into a wide range of construction jobs, including welding, trucking, electrical work and building houses and roads.
Patricia McKinley used the skills she learned at the construction academy to launch KHAVL Transport in 2016 with just one truck. She now has four semi-tractor trailers in the trucking company, which she co-owns with her husband.
McKinley hopes to soon see more women behind the wheel of their own companies.
Corey Foster, who manages ADOT’s workforce development program, said bringing women and minorities into the construction academy is filling an industry need for skilled workers.
“A lot of the contractors are concerned that projects are increasing, opportunities are increasing in the Valley and Arizona, but the workforce does not have the skills that they need to go forth,” he said. “The academy kind of bridges the gap.”
Iris Bost, who graduated from the program, started her own business teaching safety classes for ADOT at a Gila Community College facility in Miami.
Gila Community College offers a hands-on experience to students. They work at various stations, honing such skills such as machinery work, wood building and welding.
Programs are tailored to people’s schedules, preferences and how much training they need. Sessions range from a week to 16 weeks and are offered in the evenings. Each person is able to choose specific courses, such as mathematics or blueprint reading, that correlate to the job they seek.
Graduates receive certifications and all the equipment they need to be successful at their next job.
Read more at Cronkite News.