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Pilot Program Aims To Build Arizona’s Highway Construction Workforce

Arizona’s construction worker shortage stretches beyond metro Phoenix — and beyond home building. There’s also a big need for highways workers. 

Arizona is one of six states taking part in a federal pilot program focused on highway construction.

“The folks who have been in these jobs are retiring,” said Mary Alejandro, liaison for the city of Phoenix’s Community and Economic Development Department.

It’s her job to help find people to fill those positions. The program for 18- to- 24 year-oldswho are currently not working or attending school or face other challenges, provides ten weeks of paid on the job training.

Alejandro said six construction companies: Rummel; Kiewit; Markham; Hunter Contracting; Achen Garden and FNF, are committed to supporting career paths for young people who may have special challenges.

“It really takes those types of employers who see the need and also want to give back to the community,” she said.

Alejandro said a recent graduate is now employed full-time by Rummel where he works at their Scottsdale office repairing machines. Other positions require traveling outside metro Phoenix to reach highway job sites and she acknowledged transportation can be an issue.

“If that’s the greatest barrier to getting folks into this talent pipeline and into these careers what can we do collectively to try to eliminate those barriers?” Alejandro said. “What programs are available to us? That’s some research that I think as a group we are looking at right now and trying to see you know who else we can partner with that could potentially help these young people.”

Participants must meet federal eligibility guidelines as outline in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), undergo drug and alcohol testing and pass a background check.

Information sessions:
Tuesday, May 15, 10-11:30 a.m.
Chicanos Por La Causa, 619 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix

Thursday, May 17, 2-3:30 p.m
Valley of the Sun YMCA, Maryvale, 3825 N. 67th Ave., Phoenix

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.