INDIANAPOLIS — The construction industry is projected to add 700 positions in Marion County over the next five years.
Right now, Indianapolis is recruiting with a paid training program.
YouthBuild Indy gives young people career preparation and life skills. They're targeting the estimated 30,000 young people in Marion County who aren't in college, but haven't entered the workforce either.
On an empty lot in Haughville, you can see the fruits of this program's labor. A crew of young people is not only building a new home in the neighborhood, but also laying the foundation for their future careers.
"We recruit young men and women to work in their communities, to give back, while teaching them both life skills and construction training," explained YouthBuild program manager Troy Turner. "It opens doors for them. But more importantly, they get to see and experience hands-on, the work."
YouthBuild Indy is recruiting for its next group of 18- to 24-year-olds to start the next program session in September.
Participants get hands-on construction training, can earn a GED or high school equivalency, get college credit and get paid at the same time.
Students earn up to $6,300 during the 18-week program.
"It's like getting paid to learn, basically," explained Daquan Ludy, who started with YouthBuild years ago as a teenager.
Ludy is now head carpenter for Turner's team, crafting better skills and people along the way.
"He's like a son to me. They all are," Turner said. "It took him some time, but now he's grounded."
"I mentor the guys when they first come on now," Ludy said. "So I can try to make sure they don't make the mistakes I did and guide them in the right way. I've grown, too. It's a really big difference, like not knowing nothing at all, not knowing how to measure to framing a whole house."
Students really do start from scratch - no experience necessary.
"We start with how to read a tape measure, how to perform work safely," Turner explained.
They leave the program with advanced skills for an industry in need of workers.
"That employer that's giving them that work experience has already said, 'You have a job with me,'" said Rodney Francis, chief program officer with Employ Indy. "With earn to learn, the young people have responded to that model as a way to get them in and get them connected."
But even if they don't choose a construction career in the end, organizers say YouthBuild Indy builds a positive future for young people.
"The skills they've gained, the experience they've gained, the work ethic they've gained will help them on any other career path that they choose to go on," Francis said.
"They are all fantastic young men and women. They need love and nurturing and if you put anything in the right environment, it's going to grow and prosper," Turner said.
If you're interested or know a young person who's interested in earning and learning in the construction industry, the registration deadline for the next training session is Sept. 9, with orientation on Sept. 12.
Learn more about YouthBuild Indy and apply for the program on the program's website.