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Skills Program Part of Push to ‘Change The Conversation’

February 23rd, 2017

By Dan McGowan | Inside INdiana Business

A new program unveiled today in Fort Wayne is targeting talent for what Northeast Indiana Works Director of Communications Rick Farrant says are career paths that have "lost their luster" among job seekers. The Building Futures Initiative involves three-weeks of pre-apprentice training in the construction trades. As Baby Boomers continue to reach retirement, the need for young workers to enter the work force is growing. The program initially aims to provide training for 120 in the region.

Northeast Indiana Works estimates there will be a need for nearly 16,400 jobs in the construction industry in the next decade.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Farrant says "we have to change the conversation about what constitutes a successful, prosperous career." He adds, "when we look at industries like manufacturing and construction trades, which are very similar -- in fact, some of the same occupations exist in both industry sectors -- these sectors are vital to regional economies, so it's essential that we can keep the talent pipeline going." Farrant says having a ready work force with the right skills is a key to landing additional talent and ultimately attracting business to a region.

The program will start in Allen County and eventually be available in other parts of northeast Indiana. Farrant believes that Building Futures has the potential to be serves as a model for other regions and industries.

The classes will focus on skills including:

  • communication
  • problem-solving
  • safety and health
  • blueprint reading
  • construction math
  • material handling
  • tool utilization
  • quality

It will provide opportunities for participants to earn industry certifications and complete OSHA training. The total cost of running the program is expected to be nearly $670,000. In addition to Northeast Indiana Works, partners include the Northeast Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council, which is driving the effort; Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, chief training provider; WorkOne Northeast, which will help with assessments; the Fort Wayne Urban League and the Indiana Plan, providing instruction with Ivy Tech; and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, city of Fort Wayne and Questa Educational Foundation, which have provided funding or helped secure additional resources.

You can connect to more about the program through the Northeast Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council. The deadline for the first class, set for April, is March 17.