ADOT Construction Academy helps more women enter construction trades

Iris Bost with Gila Community College Construction Academy class (Submitted photo)

To help remove barriers in traditionally male dominated careers, the Arizona Department of Transportation-sponsored Construction Academy helps more women enter construction trades.

The Construction Academy programs that ADOT offers with employers, community colleges, Native American tribes and others give free training, safety gear; helps with transportation and child care for members of economically disadvantaged groups, according to a press release, noting qualifying participants include minorities, veterans and the unemployed.

The Construction Academy through ADOT’s On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services Program is part of the agency’s Business Engagement and Compliance Office that combines hands-on activities and classwork that includes computer technology, construction math, commercial driving and job-related safety and health hazards.

Training is held in the evenings and some weekends to make it more accessible, the release said. In addition to safety gear such as hard hats, protective eyewear and boots,  participants receive job-readiness training and continued mentoring to help them achieve journeyman status.

The release noted that a benefit of the program is more women entering the construction trades as the more than 600 graduates from the academy pre-apprentice training programs had about 35 percent women since 2014.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women comprise about nine percent of construction workers nationally.

Three-quarters of academy participants got work in the construction field as flaggers, commercial truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, highway surveyors, electricians, carpenters, painters, pipe fitters, concrete finishers and block masons, earning about $14-$24 or more an hour, depending on the position, the release detailed.

Iris Bost, a single mom of three, is among those benefiting from the Arizona Department of Transportation-sponsored Construction Academy at Gila Community College.

She signed up to learn carpentry and earned college credit too. After completing training last year, she started her own business teaching classes on job-related safety and health hazards as well as flagger/traffic control certification in partnership with ADOT and Gila Community College, the release said.

“There should be more women in the construction field, and I want to do what I can to help them,” said Ms. Bost, who taught her first Occupational Safety and Health Administration class at Gila Community College in August, in a prepared statement. “I want to teach both women and men about what they can and cannot do on the job so that they will work safely.”

“ADOT is investing in attracting and training skilled construction workers. Our Construction Academy not only benefits individuals but helps the construction industry in Arizona as a whole while connecting women and others with construction job opportunities,’’ said Dr. Vivien Lattibeaudiere, ADOT’s employee and business development administrator, in a prepared statement. “We help place Construction Academy graduates into apprenticeships and trainee positions with contractors that build roads in Arizona. This helps advance Arizona’s transportation system and the state’s economy.’’

Construction Academy participants even perfect their construction skills by giving back to their communities, the release said, adding that Ms. Bost and her classmates built a shed for the Globe Miami Piranha swim team and rehabilitated an elderly man’s home.

For more information or to apply for a Construction Academy, please visit azdot.gov/BECO, call 602-712-7761 or pick up materials at the ADOT Business Engagement and Compliance Office, 1801 W. Jefferson St., Suite 101, Phoenix.

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