ORLANDO, Fla. — The trade group Associated Builders and Contractors said the country would need more than half a million additional workers to meet demand this year.
The local nonprofit iBuild is meeting that demand and changing people’s lives with its mission.
“This isn’t about me,” said iBuild President Debbie Rodriguez. “I tell people all the time that we’re building something great for our community.”
Rodriguez has worked in construction for over 20 years and said the worker shortage has always been there.
“It’s been a problem since I started, so I got really tired of hearing about it,” she said.
As a result, Rodriguez created the nonprofit to provide opportunities for people that she said the industry was leaving behind.
She said the six sectors include people who change careers, women in trades, immigrants, re-entry, prison and juvenile justice programs, and people with high-level disabilities.
iBuild works with 400 partners creating a workforce development pipeline for the construction industry and even provides English classes.
Rodriguez said 80% of their workforce are Hispanics.
“What I’m trying to do is eliminate barriers for our employees to be able to speak English,” she said. “So, they can overcome their obstacles and hopefully have better career paths into the construction industry.”
Eliminating barriers is vital to our local construction industry and to the industry overall.
According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, the construction industry averaged more than 390,000 job openings per month in 2022, which is the highest level on record.
Rodriguez said that as far as Central Florida goes, we are still in a deficit the recession created.
“I don’t think we’ve recovered. I think it’ll still be a couple more years until we recover. And we also have to get our wages in Central Florida up for the trades.”
iBuild will have a construction job fair and skills competition on Apr. 29 open to the public.
You can find more information here.
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