Building a Future: Construction firm offers jobs to people looking for a second chance

(WSVN) - It seems like everywhere you look in downtown Miami, there is construction, but it might surprise you to learn who is working on those high-rise buildings. The Nightteam’s Jessica Holly has more on a program that is “Building a Future” for people and the city they live in.

Welding. Drilling. Building.

It seems the sky is the limit in South Florida.

But finding qualified construction workers to put up these skyscrapers can be a challenge.

Henry Crespo, Sr., The Development Firm: “According to the labor department, we have about 290,000 unfilled jobs in the construction industry — skilled and unskilled.”

This construction project is the Miami Worldcenter, a 10-city-block complex with condos, restaurants, shops, hotels and the new Miami Convention Center.

Managers here have found a way to fill the gaps by running a jobs program in local neighborhoods where unemployment is high.

Henry Crespo, Sr.: “Whether it’s in Overtown, Little Haiti, Little Havana, we work with the churches and community organizations. We have a group of candidates that come in that have never picked up a hammer in their life.”

They’re finding people like Rodney, who just needed a second chance.

Rodney Derrick Boykins, construction crew: “I was down and out about a year ago, but things were kind of hard for me, so I got into the program.”

Seven months later, he’s a supervisor on the painting crew here.

Rodney Derrick Boykins: “Miami Worldcenter just changed my life!”

Angie is one of the growing number of women on the construction site. She’s used to working with her hands in a salon.

Angie Gutierrez, construction crew: “I do before manicure, nails, you know, eyelashes, hair and makeup.”

The beauty business didn’t pay enough, so now she’s calking and grouting tile and making twice what she made before.

Angie Gutierrez: “Pay my car and pay my college. That’s my goal, so…”

There are also programs for skilled workers.

Josue was a journalist in Haiti but fled after Jean-Bertrand Aristide took power.

Josue Rene, construction crew: “It was very, very difficult to pay my bills as a father of four kids, and I’m married. I’ve got a wife, and every month, I have to get eviction by my door.”

He applied for the program at a job fair. Now, he’s an apprentice electrician getting ready to take the test to become a journeyman.

Josue Rene: “Since I started the job, my life has changed.”

There are about 6,000 workers on the Miami Worldcenter project right now, and managers say more will be hired between now and completion in 2021.

Henry Crespo, Sr.: “The jobs are there. We’re doing all we can, whether it’s robo-calls, going to churches, knocking on doors…”

No matter what the background, anyone can apply.

Henry Crespo, Sr.: “We change people’s lives every day.”

Building South Florida and giving people a second chance to go sky high.

Miami Worldcenter Jobs
http://www.thedevelopmentfirm.com/community-works

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