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In Colorado - Construction firms look to untapped resource for workers — women

Emilie Rusch of the Denver Post recently wrote a great article about the state of women in construction in Colorado. Read on for some snippets!


A number of Denver-area companies are recruiting women for apprenticeship programs, in hopes of bolstering numbers both in the field and in technical and leadership positions.

"The sky's the limit within construction for women. There are so many positions and opportunities that are starving for more female candidates," said Karla Nugent, chief business development officer for Weifield Group Contracting in Denver. "Multitasking, organization, better communication — we really need that in construction. So many of the positions, they will train if you have basic skills they can build on."

According to the National Association of Women in Construction, 9.8 million people worked in the U.S. construction industry in 2014. Of that number, just 872,000, or 8.9 percent, were women.

On average, women in construction earned 93.4 percent of what men made in 2013 — a narrower gap than the national average of 82 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 81 percent of Colorado construction firms polled by the Associated General Contractors of America said they intended to add jobs this year, with 26 percent planning to hire more than 25 employees.


Between December 2014 and last December, Colorado added 11,700 construction jobs, which represented a 7.9 percent increase, according to BLS data. Overall, though, construction employment is still below pre-recession highs.

"It's so hard to get women excited about being an electrician," Nugent said. "We're starting to make some strides with younger-teen girls, not just the guys."

The apprenticeship model is one of the major selling points they bring up with prospective candidates, male or female, Nugent said.

Apprentices get four years of paid on-the-job training and free after-hours classroom instruction after which they can move up to a higher-paid, journeyman status, as well as other career paths in the field, such as estimator or project engineer.


"Just because you're in the industry doesn't mean you're out there swinging a hammer," said Reiswig, who works in technical sales for United Rentals Power & HVAC. "There are administrative positions, there are technical positions, a lot of women are becoming engineers. Women can provide a different viewpoint."

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