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Nonprofit Aims To Train A Million Construction Workers In National Expansion


A program funded by the construction industry is taking aim at its longstanding, pandemic-exacerbated labor shortage.

BuildStrong Academy, a workforce development nonprofit funded by the construction industry, has rolled out plans to expand nationally, with a goal of training 1 million new trade workers over the next 15 years.

The Denver-based organization opened a training facility in Orlando, Florida, in September and plans to open another one in greater New Orleans in April. In 2024, it expects to open new chapters in Charlotte, North Carolina, Phoenix and Houston, and ultimately plans to have a presence in 20 U.S. cities by 2037.

The new chapters will be funded by private donors, local builders and other nonprofits. They will offer, at no charge to students, an initial course focused on safety, construction basics and workplace skills. After students are placed in entry-level construction jobs, they will take more specialized courses or enter apprenticeship programs.

The initiative will draw on the work of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy, BuildStrong's flagship chapter, which has graduated more than 1,200 students since opening in 2017, according to the nonprofit.

BuildStrong's growth comes amid mounting labor shortages for the U.S. construction and homebuilding industry. The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that the residential construction sector alone will need to add 740,000 workers a year just to keep pace with the demand for houses.

The worker shortage stands to have a serious impact on the ability to build more affordable housing, said Pat Hamill, CEO of Colorado-based Oakwood Homes and founder of BuildStrong Academy.

"Over the last decade, the country's shortage of affordable housing has reached a crisis point," Hamill said in a statement. "We need to build millions of new homes, and we simply don't have the workers to do it."