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News Jan. 9, 2018

Hurricane Harvey recovery puts pressure on Houston training centers

Houston-area training and vocational centers are struggling to meet demand for skilled construction workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, according to

An employee at SER-Jobs for Progress, a local employment services and training nonprofit, told the Houston Chronicle that calls from employers seeking the program's graduates occur "pretty much daily."

The Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council developed a three-week pre-apprenticeship course to train workers, with 120 hours of training in construction math, blueprint reading and on-the-job safety. Of 20 students who enrolled in November 2017, 19 were hired immediately after completion (the remaining student dropped out).

At a separate boot camp course offered by Houston Community College—in which students learn A/C repair, electrical, plumbing and welding—many trainees are recruited to work long before completing the 14-week program.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have spurred a hiring push for skilled, and even partially skilled, workers by construction companies struggling to complete existing projects and help with recovery efforts.

Commercial builders are experiencing pressure as workers move to the more in-demand residential building sector, being offered increasing wages in a competitive hiring market. ManpowerGroup's Net Employment Outlook suggests the hiring outlook for construction is at its highest level in more than 10 years.

The aftermath from recent hurricanes and other disasters appear to highlight the need to create more apprenticeship opportunities and maintain a pool of skilled workers.

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