Three Kansas City metro associations have joined forces to launch a pilot program for ex-offenders who will be entering the workforce.
The Associated Builders and Contractors Heart of America Chapter, the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City (HBA) and Workforce Partnership have developed a six-week training program to assist in placing workers into the homebuilding industry.
The program is backed by a $200,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce, which will fund the program through spring 2020.
Available to ex-offenders currently living in the Johnson County Department of Corrections Adult Residential Center, the training will focus on proficiencies needed to become a skilled laborer. Trainees will graduate with 10 hours of certification in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as certification from the National Center for Construction Education & Research for Carpentry Level 1.
Currently, 10 ex-offenders are enrolled with the capacity for 20 trainees in session one, which began March 5. A second session will commence April 2 with a similar number of trainees.
“Together, the three organizations are working to make men and women of all backgrounds aware of the many amazing opportunities this career path can open for them,” said Michele Roberts-Bauer, ABC president.
The program comes at a critical time in the construction industry as a labor shortage has deepened in the metro. According to a 2017 HBA workforce study, 57 percent of respondents expressed a large or serious shortage within the carpentry trade. The training program is a direct outcome of efforts to decrease that shortage.
“This program is part of a multipronged approach the HBA is taking to ease the labor shortage in the home-building industry,” said Josh Clark, executive vice president of HBA. “[HBA] is excited to partner with ABC and Workforce Partnership to roll out this program as one facet of that initiative.”
As for a strategy to place trainees into employment, the three partners will host networking and job fair events midway through the training sessions in an effort to introduce trainees to potential employers.
Clark describes a couple of advantages for potential employers: employers don’t have to take the time or spend the money to train them on the basics, and it’s expensive to hire someone but the program reduces the time, cost and risk to the company.
Once trainees are placed into employment, the program allots for up to 50 percent of their salaries to be paid during the first six weeks of on-the-job training.