Women Building Futures program starts July 9 at HCC SouthShore
By LOIS KINDLE
Enterprising Latinas and Hillsborough Community College SouthShore have partnered to help low-income women explore higher paying career options. Through Women Building Futures, a workforce training program funded by a Hillsborough County Community Development Grant, qualified participants who live in unincorporated areas of the county can learn the fundamentals of construction in 15 weeks of FREE classes at HCC SouthShore.
“The program is designed to enable these women to take advantage of high-paying jobs in non-traditional career fields, like construction,” said Lori Pettit, manager of the Centre for Women’s Tampa Bay Works for Women employment services. “It’s like Construction 101.”
Lee Thomas PhD, dean of academic affairs at HCC SouthShore, said the college has been diligently reaching out to the community, especially Wimauma and Ruskin.
“In doing so, we were given the opportunity to teach classes at their site (in Wimauma),” he said. “They approached us (about the Women Building Futures program), and we’re returning the favor by having the classes here on campus. They do such a good job in the community, we just couldn’t say, ‘No.’
“This is a program that changes lives,” Thomas continued. “We’re behind it 100%.”
Eligibility requirements include some form of personal identification and proof of income and county residence, Pettit said. Class size is limited, and preference will be given to South Shore area residents wanting to work in construction.
Each graduate of the program will earn National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and OSHA 10 certifications. Attendance of all class sessions is required for both.
Pettit said when a woman has “this training and these certifications, it shows an employer she has both the initiative and safety awareness to enter any construction field as a safe hire.”
The classes will be taught Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. July 9 through Oct. 17 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 20 (safety training). They will include topics like material handling; introduction to hand and power tools; OSHA basic safety training; construction math and drawings; introductions to plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, painting and masonry and finishing; working in the trades; and more.
Each student receives a pink hard hat, tool kit, safety glasses and the textbook, “Core Curriculum: Introductory Craft Skills.” Applicants should expect to spend a minimum of five hours per week completing homework assignments.
Certified for NCCER training, Pettit will be teaching the classes with the help of skilled specialists in the various trades who will discuss their careers and may provide a small, hands-on activity. Professionals in the South Shore area interested in participating should call Pettit at the Centre for Women, 813-210-9704.
Betty Charcay, of Tampa, graduated from the Women Building Futures program several years ago and has since started her own company, painting homes and other buildings of up to three stories.
“The classes enabled me to learn about topics that helped me to open my business,” she said, adding they helped her focus on what she was interested in.
Charcay said the program was well worth her time.
“I learned all kinds of things I didn’t know.”
Free classes are also being offered Mondays and Wednesdays at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor Workforce Training Center in Tampa.
If you’d like to open doors into a new, better-paying future, call the Enterprising Latinas at 813-699-5811 to get additional information or apply for the program. You can also stop by the Wimauma Opportunity Center at 5128 S.R. 674, Wimauma.