COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A partnership between two organizations, Construction Ready and Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers Inc. (GoodwillSR), is allowing 20 students in Columbus to train for construction careers at no cost to them. The current session began on Oct. 3 at SafeHouse Ministries in Columbus, according to Construction Ready spokesperson Mitch Leff. The students will graduate on Oct. 28.

On Wednesday, students used power tools to build a picnic table at a Goodwill training center in Columbus.

“[S]o far, they have learned power tools, which is today, hand tools,” said Construction Ready Site Manager Toni Davis. “They [went] over OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration], OSHA 10 and NCCER [National Center for Construction Education and Research] basic safety, construction math, communication and employability. That’s what they’ve learned so far, but they will continue on to learn rigging, first aid, fall protection, forklift awareness, [powder] actuated tools, laser…”

Davis explained the meaning of rigging using the example of a crane carrying a large load.

“And so, what you do is you secure it with ropes and chains and stuff,” she said. “So you have to learn how to tie that and secure that safely. That’s called rigging.”

Above, Construction Ready students work on building a picnic table.

The students’ education is being paid for through an unsolicited $10 million grant GoodwillSR received from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2020. According to Tricia Konan, GoodwillSR vice president of mission services, not all of the grant money is being used for the partnership.

“I would say that we’re extremely happy to be able to partner with Construction Ready to educate the future workforce as well as connect candidates with local employers,” she said.

Originally, in 2014, Construction Ready had a partnership with Home Depot, Davis said. In 2021, Construction Ready partnered with GoodwillSR to expand the adult construction training program in Columbus.

GoodwillSR Communications Specialist Eric Willis said that GoodwillSR recruited students through radio, television and other media.

“And those who wanted to join the program, they had to go register,” he said. “And once they registered and went through a vetting system. And then, once that happened, we chose those students.”

Davis said GoodwillSR worked closely with the Construction Ready recruitment team to recruit students.

The program aims to have between 21 and 25 students at a time due to limited spacing.

Davis said Construction Ready and GoodwillSR hold the classes every month all over Georgia.

Above, Construction Ready students work on building a picnic table.

An email from Leff says that the Construction Ready program aims to “help close the workforce skills gap.” It expanded into the Columbus region in 2021 and since then has graduated 14 students.

Since 2014, the email says, the Construction Ready adult education program has trained over 1,300 workers for careers in construction. The program, it says, has a 97% job placement rate by the end of training, the average starting salary for graduates is $13 to $17 an hour, and 70% of participants are employed with the same company a year later.

Click here for more information on Construction Ready.