Kalihi to get new construction center
The training facility hopes to churn out new workers
AFTER YEARS of decline since the boom years of the 1980s, the construction industry will build a facility in Kalihi to train the next crop of contractors and to offset a labor shortage.
The Building Industry Association of Hawaii and the city announced yesterday the $4.8 million training center with 23,000 square feet of space for classrooms, conference rooms, a computer lab, an industrial equipment training area and offices.
"It will help people who want to come to and who know nothing about the (construction) industry to learn what is available to them," said Karen Nakamura, the association's chief executive officer.
The Construction Training Center of the Pacific conducts educational and training classes scattered throughout several adult community school sites and at the BIA headquarters in Kalihi. But the new facility will change that.
"It will be much more convenient. Right now, the courses are on different campuses," BIA spokeswoman Karen Iwamoto said.
The BIA said the recession of the 1990s led to a decline of construction workers in Hawaii.
But the current building boom fueled by private and military housing construction will generate an additional 10,000 to 26,000 construction jobs in the next five years.
The center's pre-apprenticeship program gives students a comprehensive look at the industry and targets the unemployed and underemployed, Nakamura said.
"It's a very diverse industry, and this class of courses ... gives you that broad overview," Nakamura said. "We're giving them a life skill. No matter where they are, they can earn a living wage."
Nakamura said the demographics of the construction industry are also changing, with more workers nearing retirement age.
"We need to address that attrition," Nakamura said.
Training courses will also focus on filling the need for more construction business owners and contractors.
The city assisted the BIA in securing $2 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.
"They needed a public-sector partner," said Jeanne Schultz, city economic development director.
"If it weren't for the city, we would not get the grant. The city's role was very important," Nakamura said.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the city should be playing a more active role like this in stimulating job creation.
The BIA will raise the additional money needed for construction through loans and a capital fund-raising effort. So far, $1 million has been raised.
Nakamura said the BIA has an ambitious schedule to complete the facility, with design estimated to take about a year and then construction, about a year to 18 months.