LEWISTON — A group of Lewiston Adult Education students have gained construction and work readiness training along with work experience thanks to local partnerships.
The Lewiston Construction Training Program students celebrated their graduation on April 25 at Tree Street Youth Community Center. The graduates were Isaias Mulume, Farah Djireh, Abdulrazzaq Al Masoodi, Abdikani Abdulle and Hussameldin Eminire.
The program used the Integrated Education and Training model, which features class time on construction skills training and communications as well as working with local contractors. Students spent 16 to 24 hours each week on the job with H.E. Callahan, Industrial Roofing Corp. or Hahnel Brothers. Contractors also provided guidance and feedback about the content of the curriculum.
“Based on their input, the curriculum included a Work Ready component, basic math (fractions, decimals, percentages), familiarity with basic hand and power tools and worksite safety training. Successful candidates graduate from the program with Work Ready, OSHA 10 and RRP (lead abatement) credentials as well as eight weeks of hands-on work experience,” Gorman Foundation Senior Program Associate Sara Gagne-Holmes said.
All the graduates had interviews with potential employers after the ceremony. Average wages in contracting are going up and many veteran workers are nearing retirement age, said instructor Jason Merritt.
“Right now, the construction industry is in dire need of skilled laborers and construction workers – carpenters, plumbers, electricians. It’s everywhere. You name the trade,” he said.
Merritt, who also teaches construction trades at Lewiston Regional Technical Center, said he and teachers at Central Maine Community College have gotten calls from contractors looking to make hires. If the construction industry does not find a solution to its shortage of workers, Merritt said jobs could be outsourced to other countries.
Along with members of the graduates’ families, the audience had many people who helped the program become a reality. They included contractors Brian Demshar of H.E. Callahan and John Ferland of Hahnel Brothers. Members of Western Maine Community Action, the Root Cellar, Tree Street Youth Center, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, Lewiston CareerCenter, the city of Lewiston and the John T. Gorman Foundation also attended the ceremony. The Gorman Foundation provided support for the program.
Workforce coach Kim Sullivan, Lewiston Adult Education Director Bill Grant, instructor Jason Merritt and instructor Greg Yates spoke to the graduates and noted some of the challenges they had overcome. Misty Parker of Lewiston Economic Development and employer liaison Jamie O’Connell also congratulated students during the ceremony.