In addition to a private building boom in the region, Denver itself will be generating thousands of new construction jobs on major investments to build our city. These projects include the National Western Center revitalization which was made possible with $778 million in voter approved funds. This fall Denver voters will decide on a general obligation bond worth $500-600 million, that will repair and build transportation infrastructure and public buildings over the coming decade. And annually, Denver funds additional construction, such as multi-modal transportation and drainage improvements.
A best practice for connecting residents to construction career opportunities on public projects involves establishing hiring and training goals. Goals incentivize contractors to find and train those who need jobs the most. And a system of recruitment, support and training helps to ensure those workers are prepared to succeed. Targeted hiring focuses on reaching out to individuals from economically distressed areas, based on objective criteria like median income, poverty, or unemployment. Training goals help to ensure workers are receiving industry-recognized training to advance beyond entry level positions to career-skills that will meet the needs of the industry while earning additional income as they advance.
Training might begin with pre-apprenticeship training to expose individuals to the industry, help them learn basic vocabulary and safety, and brush up on math skills required to enter more formalized training. More formal training occurs through registered apprenticeship, where individuals learn skills of a particular trade on the job from an experienced journeyperson while attending additional classroom training at night or on weekends is an example. Apprentices are paid while they work, and in Denver most programs earn community college credit up to 42 credit hours that can be attributed toward a degree later. Support might range from assistance with purchasing boots or tools, mentoring, help overcoming child care or transportation barriers, etc.
CDOT has already set a “local hiring” goal on the I-70 reconstruction project, and at least one private project in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood has also committed to creating targeted hiring goals. Councilwoman Kniech is working with Councilwoman Ortega’s office and the Administration to explore the potential for creating a construction career pathway and goals in a pilot project at the National Western Center. As more details about these programs emerge, this website will be updated.