Through the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation, Chris Price has created a construction education and training program that works to provide adults in underserved communities with free education and opportunities.
The BY Program is a training and education course that offers NCCER Core and OSHA 10 lessons and certifications. It is six-week program that teaches adults rudimentary skills that are needed to succeed in construction such as: basic safety, construction math, introduction to hand tools and power tools, introduction to blueprints, basic rigging and soft skills training.
The best part of the program? It directly connects education to industry.
Throughout the program, students meet different employers and explore various markets as they work through the core curriculum. By the end of the program, students have met and interacted with many employers in several industries within construction.
The program is free for all who attend – thanks to partnerships with the state of Indiana and local communities. It is currently accepting adults over the age of 18 with or without a high school diploma. To enroll in the program, applicants must remain drug free throughout the program and complete a criminal background check.
Upon the completion of the course, a job fair is held where employers may speak with graduates and offer them a position with their company. According to Price, a graduate could walk away with 20 different job offers.
These job fairs have been highly successful for both students and employers in the long run. With high retention rates and employers continuing to return to the program to recruit, there has been an efficient pipeline of talent established in Indiana through this program.
Because of the high success rate, the BY Program asks industry partners to donate $500 if someone from the program is hired and retained for 90 days. This helps fund the program and ensures that the pipeline of talent continues to grow.
Currently, there are 500,000 adults without a high school diploma who are ready to enter the workforce in Indiana, according to Price. The BY Program hopes to recruit these adults in underserved communities and provide them with valuable career opportunities in construction.
Simply, the program aims to help adults who do not have many resources or assistance at their disposal. By connecting these adults to employers and career opportunities, they are giving them a chance to succeed and thrive in the construction industry.
Price shared that each class has been diverse with nearly 80% of students from a minority group and a growing number of women – the most recent class is half women. This is incredibly important as the industry tends to be predominately white and male. As these classes graduate and enter the field, the construction industry in Indiana is getting increasingly diverse, which is another win for the state.
Every month there are two to three classes taking place across the state with 20-30 students per class, and the BY Program is just getting started.
The program has continued to grow and gain popularity as word of mouth continues to spread about how this program has changed lives around Indiana. One man graduated from the class, found a job and has since encouraged his entire family to go through the program. Another has recruited at least 50 people to go through the program and begin a career in construction since his graduation.
Price noticed that most of the people in the program come from challenging situations. Around 50% of them do not have formal homes. When these people go through the program, enter the industry and begin making as much as $37 an hour, their lives are forever changed.
Each course is taught at local community centers across Indiana that offer additional benefits to attending adults. These benefits can include bus passes, financial assistance for tools, or employment and financial planning.
One of these centers, Southeast Community Services, helped transform the life of an adult struggling with homelessness.
The individual was homeless prior to the program and had no family support. After being forced to live in a tent city, they went to the community center to get their high school equivalency. Soon, they enrolled in the BY program. Upon graduating, they landed a job making $16 an hour with insurance and 401(k) benefits.
At first, they were keeping their money all in cash and carrying it around, as they never had a bank account or the need for one. With the help of Southeast Community Services, they were able to open their first bank account, learn how to manage money and find a place to live.
Currently, they are still working in construction, supporting themselves and affording housing.
According to Peggy Frame, deputy director at the center, the BY Program has been a huge success for adults who have committed their time to it. When graduates are able to receive NCCER and OSHA credentials, industry connections, and employment and financial coaching – there is a high chance for success.
The center has completed three classes and Frame said that graduates have been placed in good jobs, retainment is high, and employers are continuing to come back to hire graduates.
The BY Program has been successful and it is still in its early stages. With hopes to expand across Indiana and eventually to other states, Price is paying attention to what is and isn’t working.
Above all, he is working to put people above the things that commonly divide interests. As it all continues to come together, he hopes to keep recruiting, training and bringing people together to enjoy a career in construction.
Watch Price talk about the BY Program and its impact in this video produced by The Atlantic.