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Opportunity to learn a trade

If you drive around the metro in both Kansas and Missouri you can see the skyline changing. With all the new construction of office space, apartments, homes and retail developments local construction companies are in need of more skill workers in the construction field. For years community leaders and others have talked about connecting students who many not be college bound but would benefit from a apprenticeship programs in the construction field so that they could learn a trade and make a good living.

Burns & McDonnell CEO Ray Kowalik told Hispanic News “Our city is on fire, you think about what we have accomplish in the city… you see all the cranes all over the place… you see the downtown revitalizations, you see the Sprint Center success, the Royals, the Chiefs, Sporting KC and the Kansas Speedway. The things that have come into our community in last 10 to 15 years. What great programs we have in place and we to continue to grow the success of our city… Our city is on fire, you think about the best places to work … we have the proper tool in place. We have the urban core and need to bring it with the rest of the city.”

In early August, at Burns & McDonnell’s headquarters along with the Builders’ Association, the Greater Kansas City Building Trades Association and several area construction firms launched an all-new Enhanced Construction Technology Program with the Kansas City School District’s at Manual Career and Technical Center as part of a concerted effort to put area youth on an accelerated pathway to skilled, unionized jobs in the metro.

The intensive program will convert the current residential construction training program at Manual Career and Technical Center to an intensive commercial construction training program. A wide range of skilled trades that are in great demand throughout the region and country will be offered in the program.

“We believe that just as in other industries, advances in technology will require construction workers to have broad knowledge in STEM related areas,” said Kowalik. In addition to helping establish the new program, the Burns & McDonnell KCI hometown team has committed to employ the first 10 graduates on the KCI airport project, if selected by the city and approved by the citizens of Kansas City. In addition, those graduates will be awarded scholarships to continue their education at any of the Metropolitan Community College campuses.

The program was announced at a half-day symposium at Burns & McDonnell focused on providing the tools needed by minority-owned businesses to grow in their respective markets.

“One of the biggest variables on any construction jobsite is the availability of skilled trades people,” says Don Greenwell, President of the Builder’s Association. “That’s why the Builders’ Association has emphasized training for so long and why we’re proud to be part of this new program that will increase the pool of talented trades people in Kansas City.”

“This program will be another valuable conduit allowing young people who are interested in the building trades to gain both the instruction and hands-on experience they need to compete for highly-paid, high-skill jobs in the construction sector,” says Alise Martiny, Business Manager of the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council. “This is a first-of-its-kind program that provides a direct path to employment through a combination of classroom instruction followed by field application on construction sites. It will be a real-world, practical solution to a chronic industry problem of lack of skilled trades people in the construction industry.”

“The Enhanced Construction Technology Program is a great opportunity for our students in Kansas City. This will provide them with tools to allow them to both grow and succeed in the years ahead,” said Gail McCann-Beatty

Missouri Senator Shalon Curls added: “There is no shortage of talent and ability among our young people attending Kansas City Public Schools. They just need opportunities and innovative new partnerships between schools and the business community like the Construction Technology Program are pathways forward that lead to real jobs.”

“The process of putting together a proposal for a new KCI has made it clear this will be a project that creates many opportunities to move our entire community forward,” says Kowalik, “This partnership with the Kansas City School District and building trades and labor organizations is just one more way we hope to bring opportunities to underserved communities and people in our city.”