Boys to Men Mentoring Network, Contractors Assn. offers construction boot camp to fast track trades skills

How to apply

Any construction trade professional or business owner interested in assisting with teaching courses, or helping create a curriculum, for the first boot camp project expected to be held in January, contact Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai Contractors Association, at 928-778-0040.

For those interested in participating in the boot camp, men and women aged 18 to 26 who are unemployed or underemployed, call to sign up for the boot camp that will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis for up to 25 job candidates. Contact Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai Contractors Association, 928-778-0040

Charles Matheus knows a number of the teenage boys mentored through his agency are not college bound, nor are they motivated by the almighty dollar when it comes to finding a profession.

Still, they need to find a way to earn a paycheck but it must also fulfill a sense of purpose and pride.

With that thought in mind, Matheus, the Boys to Men Mentoring Network executive director, brainstormed with United Way Executive Directory Annette Olson about developing a social entrepreneurship program. Together, they connected with the Yavapai Contractors Association and the Northern Arizona Coalition of Governments (NACOG) about introducing young adults to construction industry trades that might suit their talents.

For those interested in participating in the boot camp, men and women aged 18 to 26 who are unemployed or underemployed, call to sign up for the boot camp that will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis for up to 25 job candidates. Contact Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai Contractors Association, 928-778-0040.

As the conversations evolved, the United Way opted to provide a $15,000 grant to the contractors association to create a monthlong, five days a week job training boot camp to benefit up to 25 unemployed, or underemployed, adults between the ages of 18 and 26. The plan is to spend late summer and fall creating a full curriculum, and then pilot the project in January, organizers said.

The United Way’s financial support for this endeavor relates to the agency’s commitment to financially enable nonprofit agencies to offer social enterprise efforts aimed at bringing people out of poverty and into productive citizenship.

Contractors Association Executive Director Sandy Griffis said she is delighted for the opportunity, one she and her fellow organizers hope is the beginning of multiple job training boot camp sessions.

“The trades are looking for folks like crazy,” Griffis said. “You cannot ride through Yavapai County and not see a sign on the back of truck that reads, “Now Hiring. You see it daily.”

Area trade professionals will be tapped to provide instruction in their various professions — be it general building contracting or such specialties as drafting, roofing, framing, fine carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. Beyond classroom instruction, these business owners and craftsman will offer field trips and experiential learning opportunities so the potential employees see up close what it is to work in a particular field. The boot camp participants will learn job qualifications, and how even a beginning position can grow and expand into other career opportunities, organizers said.

Each candidate will earn their federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration certificate as well as a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training certificate that most any trade employer requires of new employees. This makes them an even more attractive hire because they arrive to work job ready, Olson noted.

The boot camp will also incorporate classes related to job and life skill training, money management and coaching in job fundamentals that will prepare these individuals to be hired for the various open positions that now exist in these trades. The candidates will learn “soft” skills, such as how to communicate in a work setting, how to establish short and long-term goals that then encourage these young adults to consider economic opportunities for them in the Quad Cities region, organizers said.

“We’ll help with resumes, understanding finances and the importance of what we all hate, the checkbook,” Griffis said.

Matheus said he sees his role in this project as the “teen whisperer,” promoting this effort to not only those in his program who are now age eligible but those who may have gone through it in the past and looking to launch a career.

“One of the problems for youth is that many don’t see a clear future for themselves. They are disconnected from the economic engines,” Matheus said of those growing up in a post 9-11 and recession era. “So I’m coaching the contractors and Sandy to be talking to kids not just about what great pay they can earn but the opportunities to build something that lasts, to work on a team and do something meaningful.”

Even if these boot camp participants do not want to devote a lifetime to “swinging a hammer,” Matheus said he wants them to see these skills can be meaningful anywhere — they can make their own guitar or build furniture for their future home. He said this is a chance for them to see that they can be creative and hone talents to benefit themselves and others as their future unfolds.

The intention is to give them “real-life” connections so they see value in the work they select to do to pay their bills, Matheus said.

A key component of the boot camp will be the final session: business owners will be available to accept resumes and match their job openings to these potential job candidates, Olson said.

NACOG will assist in this process by financing a portion of the employee’s initial pay for 12 weeks, organizers said.

“We want to show them that this boot camp can, ultimately, be a big smile for their life,” Griffis concluded.

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