Organizations offer building trades program

FORT WAYNE — The Northeast Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council and Northeast Indiana Works are launching a free three-week pre-apprenticeship program for workers in the region.

According to organizers, the Building Futures initiative, a collaboration of regional entities, will help enhance talent pipelines for construction trades occupations, which include: laborers, carpenters, iron and sheet metal workers, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, insulators, painters, plasterers and roofers.

A start date for the program has yet to be determined.

“Building Futures is precisely the kind of program we need to ensure that the building trades have a talented, diverse workforce to meet the current and future needs of our region’s growing economy,” Darryl Esterline, president of the Northeast Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council, said in a news release. “We are thrilled that so many exceptional partners have stepped forward to assist us in this effort.”

Among the partners are: Northeast Indiana Works, which helped facilitate strategic planning and secured funding for the program through a Skill UP Indiana! grant for the pre-apprenticeship program and a separate insurance industry initiative; Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, which is the chief training provider for Building Futures; WorkOne Northeast, which will assist with participant assessments; the Fort Wayne Urban League and the Indiana Plan, which along with Ivy Tech will provide instruction; the JPMorgan Chase Foundation; and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, which secured funding provided by Chase.

The goal is to provide training for 120 people throughout northeast Indiana. People who complete the program will be better prepared to either go right to work in a construction occupation or apply for a full apprenticeship, where they will be paid to further enhance their education and training, according to organizers.

Building Futures classes will include instruction on such things as communication, problem solving, safety and health, blueprint reading, construction math, material handling, tool utilization and quality.

Students will have an opportunity to earn two industry-recognized certifications and complete Occupational Safety and Health Administration training.

People employed in the trades in northeast Indiana are quickly approaching retirement, so there is a growing demand for young, diverse talent, according to program organizers.

It is estimated construction industry job growth in northeast Indiana will rise by 17 percent in the next decade — more than 2,400 jobs — according to a Northeast Indiana Works analysis. Additionally, more than 2,600 jobs may have to be filled to replace retiring workers.

“Construction trades occupations offer good self- and family-sustaining wages,” Edmond O’Neal, president of Northeast Indiana Works, said in the news release. “Moreover, the future looks bright for the industry in the region, especially with the job growth estimates and the prospect of more large construction projects.”

Building Futures accepts applicants 18 years old and older. People who are selected for the program must undergo a pre-assessment process that includes a drug screen. Participants will receive a $100-a-week stipend during the course of the program.

“Ivy Tech Community College Northeast is focused on addressing the needs of northeast Indiana,” Jerrilee Mosier, the college’s chancellor, said in the news release. “We’re pleased to be the training partner in this collaborative effort that will help place newly skilled individuals in what is one of the most in-demand industries in our area.”

For more information about the program, go to neibt.org or call 489-8574.