Gary touts construction jobs program
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/648-3154 September 8, 2012 6:40PM
Mikael Davis, 23, of Gary, works for Hyre Electric on the improvement project at the R.M. Schahfer generating plant in Wheatfield. Davis is part of the Indiana Plan's pre-apprenticeship program. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
If you go
What: New Day New Jobs - learn how to get trained and certified for careers in the construction and building trades industry.
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Genesis Convention Center, Gary
About the Indiana Plan
Since 1970, the Indiana Plan has worked to create opportunity for minorities and women in Indiana construction trades.
The mission of the Indiana Plan is to provide basic construction awareness training to minorities, women and disadvantaged workers in an effort to increase the percentages of minorities and women working in the construction industry.
The Indiana Plan is the only pre-apprenticeship program endorsed by the Indiana State Building Trades.
Applicants are required to meet the following entry-level requirements:
18 years old.
high school diploma or GED.
valid Indiana driver’s license.
pass a drug screen.
Contact: Ivy Tech - Gary, 1440 E. 35th Ave., Room T207
Updated: October 10, 2012 6:17AM
GARY — When Mikeal Davis’ planned career in aviation derailed, it ultimately led him to a new opportunity in the construction trades. Now, he hoping to secure an apprenticeship with an electrical union.
Davis, 23, credits the Indiana Plan, a preapprenticeship program endorsed by the Indiana State Building Trades that’s aimed at increasing the number of minorities and women in construction trades.
“The program definitely helps,” said Davis who joined the Indiana Plan about nine months ago. The application process and classes are simple and if you’re currently working, it doesn’t take away from it.”
The city of Gary’s Department of Commerce plans to highlight the Indiana Plan and other collaborative programs with the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council in a Tuesday outreach program, “New Day, New Jobs: the Construction Series,” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Genesis Convention Center.
“It’s an outreach for everyone in Gary,” said Forest Hayes, director of the city’s Department of Commerce. “We want to connect people to jobs.”
The city, with a July unemployment rate of 14.2 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is struggling to boost its economy and create opportunities for its residents to escape from poverty.
“We can’t have a new project on line and then find out who’s qualified. We have to get a qualified workforce in the tank so we can connect them to jobs when they become available,” said Hayes.
Hayes stressed the Tuesday event is not a job fair. He said it’s aimed at people who hold union cards and need a job, people with trades experience who want to join a union or for people with barriers preventing them from working, such as a prison record.
“This is a clarion call to those interested,” said Hayes. “It’s Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s answer to unemployment statistics in Gary.”
Randy Palmateer, business manager for the Northwestern Building and Construction Trades Council, credited Freeman-Wilson for improving the relationship between the city and his organization. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the city of Gary, but with Karen Freeman-Wilson, it’s a great relationship. She’s been open with us and our program.”
The Indiana Plan tests applicants who then undergo a two-week basic course. The test determines whether they have the basic skills for construction work. Under the Indiana Plan, workers can gain certification allowing them to work on construction sites for up to 2,000 hours.
Hayes said two workers have already been placed in construction jobs at BP and at NIPSCO’s R.M. Schahfer generating plant in Wheatfield.
“The rainbow at the end of all this is hopefully they’re accepted into a union hall as a card carrying member at the end of the day,” said Hayes.
Davis, who once dreamed of becoming a pilot but was sidelined by his diabetes, wants to become an electrician. He’s working now at NIPSCO’s R.M. Schahfer generating plant in Wheatfield as an electrician’s helper.
“Now I found something just as good, I always liked the trades just as much,” said Davis.