Community partners working on two major construction projects – the Multnomah County Central Courthouse Project and the Gladys McCoy Health Department Headquarters – are seeking workers.
Both projects have broken ground and county officials estimate they will need thousands of workers. A booming private construction industry has also translated to job openings for those looking to enter the building trades.
According to Faye Burch of FM Burch and Associates, an equity and inclusion consultant, workers can be as young as 18. They can enter the field through pre-apprenticeship programs like Constructing Hope, Oregon Tradeswomen Inc., Portland Youthbuilders Program or Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC).
“I would say in terms of timing, there’s always time to go into a pre-apprentice program,” Burch said. Burch said because construction projects go in waves, there’s a need for a variety of types of workers for the county’s project.
Those enrolled in the pre-apprentice programs get complete training where they are introduced to all building trades – carpentry, concrete, electrical work – and they get onsite experience. Most programs require a high school diploma or GED, but programs like Portland YouthBuilders also provide GED assistance.
At the end of their training, pre-apprentices pick which trade they want to go into, and start going to job sites where they are getting paid, either for union or non-union work, Burch said.
“It’s a viable opportunity for them to make a really good living wage and with so much construction now in the Portland metro area it is a chance to find out if it’s for you,” Burch said.
Some complete pre-apprentice training and determine the work is not right for them, Burch said: “A lot of people don’t like to work in the rain.” Others find a career path that allows them to make good wages, with room for upward mobility as they improve their skills and seniority.
The county hosted a large hiring event in November, but is still seeking workers for the projects.