Tuesday, October 3rd marked the completion of the first series of unprecedented construction trainings aimed at growing the Latino workforce, entrepreneurship and leadership in the D.C. construction field. The Carlos Rosario School, in partnership with industry leaders, hosted a series of workshops and trainings in the areas of safety, entrepreneurship, management, business development, and more, through this historic initiative called Construye D.C.: Latinos Thriving in Construction.
As part of this initiative Turner Construction, which has been preparing leaders in the construction industry for more than 24 years, convened their first-ever Turner School of Construction Management program in Spanish. Over the past five months, more than 60 Latino professionals have completed OSHA training in Spanish and gained relevant construction management skills. In fact, program attendance exceeded expectation 5-fold proving the demand for this type of program.
Carolyn Ellison of Turner Construction said, “I think it’s important for us to bring our product to meet the customers where they are and that means delivering our material in Spanish, being able to talk to a growing contingency of small business owners and small business interests in a language and in a forum that is most meaningful and impactful to that audience.”
Employment of construction laborers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to a 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Add to this that D.C. is experiencing the most construction activity in more than five decades according to the Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership. Latinos play an important role in the industry’s workforce and growth. In 2016, they represented 28.9% of the construction workforce nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To address growing needs in the industry and to build the capacity of its Latino workers, the Carlos Rosario School partnered with the Metro DC Hispanic Contractors Association (MDCHCA), Turner Construction, the Latino Safety Professionals Association (LSP) and the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development. Some of the construction industry’s most prominent and experienced professionals from Turner Construction and the MDCHCA shared information on everything from winning a commercial contract with large general contractors to overcoming industry prejudice toward women and minorities.
The initiative is supporting Latinos in construction so they may attain industry certifications, achieve promotions, and take their business operations to the next level.
“In our Hispanic community there’s a lot of us who want to have our own businesses but we may not find where to get the skills or where to learn. So these programs help a lot,” said Noe Cruz-Chicas, a Construye-DC participant and Carlos Rosario School student who owns his own home improvement business and hopes to take it to the next level.
The program has already yielded results. Six participant companies recently attended a bids conference to work on the Coolidge High School renovation under Turner Construction. Additionally, many business owners that participated have made changes to their processes and practices related to safety, management and finances