Tampa group training women to fill construction industry’s labor shortage

Updated Dec 6, 2015

female engineerThe stereotype that the construction industry is not suited for women is hard to squash, but Women Building Futures is doing just that.

According to The Tampa Tribune, Women Building Futures is a new program that highlights skilled construction trades. The construction industry in Florida is both among the hottest in the country while also being among the most heavily impacted by the skilled labor shortage being felt across the U.S.

WBF is working to allow women to fill that gap.

The eight-week program costs $65 per week and introduces women to careers in carpentry, plumbing, painting, flooring installation and construction drawings. All the while, the program offers its training with a flexible schedule, allowing these women to continue clocking in at their current jobs.

Once they have finished the program, they can decide to enter into a four-year apprenticeship through Associated Builders and Contractors, and Hillsborough Community College in order to become certified in a number of different trades.

Twenty-five year old Kayla Gorman left her low-paying retail job for the program and since completing her training, has taken a job with the women’s center’s Senior Home Improvement Program which repairs homes for low-income seniors. She hopes to sign up for an apprenticeship as a carpenter or electrician.

“Why would you not want to?” Gorman said. “You can just delve into it, work with your hands and make a lot better money.”

Doreen DiPolito is the owner of D-Mar General Contracting and Development. In 2006, she won Medium Business of the Year from the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great industry and a great income and we need to break the ceiling on it,” she told the Tribune. “It still happens. And women are good multitaskers.”

She also notes that it is perfect timing for women to break into new occupations.

“When the Women’s Centre started in 1977, this was one of their first programs,” said Women Building Futures program manager Luis Rodriguez, who signed up 24 women for the first set of workshops. “The idea was to help women step into roles traditionally held by male breadwinners.”

Two of the women who completed the first Women Building Futures program have applied for jobs with contractors and another got hired immediately when the hiring staff learned she had gone through the program.