The following article was authored by Scott Braddock and originally published on ConstructionCitizen.com.
Our partners at Community Family Centers (CFC) in Houston's historic East End are taking a major step forward in offering construction training to those who want to step into fulfilling careers in the industry. Starting this month, the nonprofit is offering training for people to earn nationally recognized certifications in construction.
Maritza Guerrero, President and CEO of Community Family Centers, says their mission is to equip families in the area with the tools they need to become self-sufficient members of the community. They do so in a variety of ways.
The group started simply as community volunteers working out of a church basement. Today CFC has grown into an agency with a $2.7 million annual operating budget, nearly 50 staff members and roughly 250 volunteers serving more than 44,000 clients every year.
In order to give people a shot at this nationally certified construction training, Community Family Centers is seeking sponsorship from the Construction & Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF).
“What we do is we put them under our sponsorship to audit their programs and train their instructors just to make sure they’re meeting NCCER guidelines and procedures,” said Blair Williamson, Director of Training and Development with CMEF.
Right now, Williamson said there are about 70 programs in the Houston area sponsored by CMEF which offer National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) recognized training, including 57 high schools and 13 community colleges. Williamson said the training, known commonly in the industry as NCCER Core Curriculum, is “crucial” for new workers in the industry because owners of projects and their contractors “know what to expect of someone who comes through one of those programs.” Once the students go through the program, “they can go from contractor to contractor and pick up right where they left off with their training,” Williamson said. “It’s a nationally recognized credential.”
Paul Landa, who manages adult education programs at Community Family Centers, said “Our goal is to provide a community-based construction training opportunity for our clients.” That will include NCCER and OSHA certification, Landa said. “We’re at the beginning stages,” he added while providing the Construction Citizen team with a tour.
To offer the training, Landa explained that Community Family Centers is renovating part of their facility to house a multipurpose training lab where workstations for drywall training and other learning can happen. In that space, up to 40 people will be able to train at any given time.
Where are the students for the training coming from, exactly?
Landa said “We’re utilizing a pipeline created by our adult education program. That’s our first source.” Community Family Centers is also using Steel Toe Pro, an application created by the industry to match prospective workers with careers.
Landa said that the program will allow those who wish to help with ongoing recovery efforts in Houston following Hurricane Harvey to get directly involved and jumpstart their careers at the same time. Talk about a win-win.
“We saw this as an opportunity to both tie in skills training and employment,” Landa said. He said their recent introduction to the Associated Builders and Contractors and CMEF has been a blessing. “They have a connection to the community, and we’re grateful for the support they’re providing us and for guiding us under their sponsorship,” Landa said.
The Community Family Centers training program represents a unique collaboration of organizations and individuals aligned toward a common mission to select, prepare, educate, and assist individuals who are seeking a fulfilling livelihood and who have the interest and aptitude to enter a rewarding career in construction. We will continue to focus on this program and its background in further articles on Construction Citizen.