Forty-fournew $17,400 student scholarships will be awarded beginning in April for the YouthBuild Construction Training Program, hosted by Goodwill in Tacoma. Free to low-income youth (18-24 yrs.), the program builds young lives, affordable homes and is a win-win for unemployed and homeless youth, the construction industry and the economy.
During the six-month YouthBuild Tacoma program, Goodwill and Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity work with low income young adults to build careers and young lives. The students learn how to build or rehabilitate quality homes for low income families, learn community service and civic engagement, earn their GED if needed or further their post-secondary education. Tailored around individual student needs, the program also features life, leadership and organizational skills, important construction and industry recognized certifications, and financial incentives in a safe, supportive environment.
Thanks to Sound Transitproviding $50,000 in critical support, the new 4,000 square foot indoor construction lab at Goodwill’s regional headquarters includes separate kitchen and bathroom modules where students can learn cabinet installation, flooring, plumbing and window installation. Also within the lab is a 300 square foot house and additional structure to work on framing, siding, sheetrock, insulation, roofing and lighting.
With congressional budget support, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration is funding 77 YouthBuild programs in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Goodwill YouthBuild model in Tacoma is unique as it enhances taxpayer funding with Goodwill thrift sales, private support from Sound Transit, KeyBank, and resources from the REACH Center and Habitat for Humanity.
YouthBuild Tacoma students are also graduating from the program into a construction industry job market that is facing a skilled labor shortage. As baby boomers retire, fewer young people are entering the career field, preferring desk jobs over craftsmen occupations. Demand for a skilled workforce is producing $20-$25 and hour entry-level positions with opportunities for rapid advancement. The construction industry is booming across the country with spending in transportation infrastructure up more than 40 percent. This is especially true here in Washington. Washington has sustainable budgets for transportation construction that will last for 20 years. However, the industry faces a challenge. The work force is shrinking due to retiring baby boomers and the number of workers joining the skilled and non-skilled trades continues to decline. This is exacerbating the shortage of labor that is affecting the whole industry. With years’ worth of work ahead, companies are looking toward apprentice programs and ventures such as the one provided by Goodwill to train young adults or retraining people already in the job market so that they can work on major infrastructure projects. There needs to be a focused effort to attract people to the industry, to be part of rebuilding and expanding our infrastructure to support growth across all sectors of commerce and industry.
Today, there are 260 YouthBuild programs throughout the United States and 100 programs in 23 countries. “Our global network of YouthBuild programs is enabling low-income, unemployed young people the opportunity to rebuild their communities and their lives,” said John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA. “To date, 179,000 YouthBuild students worldwide have built over 35,000 units of affordable housing and other community assets such as community centers and schools. We are deeply grateful for the strong impact we have had on our YouthBuild students and graduates over the past 40 years, and we are devoted to the YouthBuild movement of creating pathways for these young leaders of tomorrow in their communities, and beyond.”
Goodwill in Tacoma is accepting up to 44 new students to form the next class in April. Interested students can apply by contacting Michaela Woodmansee, YouthBuild Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator at Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region, at (253) 254-4959. Candidates must be between 18-24 years of age and other eligibility requirements apply. Seattle and Olympia also have YouthBuild programs as well.