New program prepares students for employment in the construction trade

A new program teaches its students how to be a construction worker in a short time frame. For those without jobs, upon completion, they can enter a sector of the Southwest Florida economy currently seeing a shortage of workers.

At the south Fort Myers job site, hammers, blow torches, heavy equipment are all in motion as several in attendance are there to retain the lessons on those pieces of construction machinery.

Camille Dixon is among some of the people present who are new to the construction industry.

“It was definitely a blessing in disguise,” said Dixon about the meeting. “I seen the opportunity the doors we open and the people behind everything the program were like supporters.”

She is one of nearly 50 people who is trained to work in these construction jobs.

“It’s like a trade,” Dixon said. “When you go to school, you learn what you’re there to learn for and this is exactly what it was.”

The program helps workers while providing much-needed labor in an industry that has seen a shortage.

Bob Kramer and Mike Love created a two-month training program to fill the void of construction works in Southwest Florida. For those searching for jobs, the program is getting them back to work.

“When I look at the unemployment rate in the city of Fort Myers,”  said Love, director of the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center, “it runs from 4.2 percent in 2017 to up to 21 percent.”

“By developing that program in 2017, we were able to successfully launch our first training class in April of 2018,” said Kramer, the project executive. “And since, [we] have successfully graduated over three different graduating classes.”

Anyone who completes the course is put right to work at a job site where they are trained and certified for free.

“Giving back to the community that’s the number one thing for us,” said Matt Barrett, a program teacher. “By 2020 I see this program giving people jobs throughout Lee County.”

Reporter:Curtis Jennings
Writer:Michael Mora
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