SLC homeless learn construction skills for employment

SALT LAKE CITY - Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development teamed up with 20 partners to create a pilot program, to help the city’s homeless population with Catholic Community Services learn construction skills and find jobs in the construction industry.

“We had a construction industry who was looking for employees- and how could we bridge people experiencing homelessness and a job need,” said Lara Fritts, director at Salt Lake City’s Economic Development Department.

On Tuesday the department honored each graduate with a certificate of skills, and a tool belt to start their careers. The private sector was involved, and construction companies were ready to start interviewing and hiring the new skilled workers.

“Our partners at Department of Workforce Services really saw this as part of their dignity of work for Operation Rio Grande and so, they were very excited to try this as a pilot to see if we could be successful and now we are going to re-group and continue to roll out additional cohorts of students to see if we can be successful,” said Fritts.

“It’s a new life, it’s a fresh start, and I am looking to keep moving forward and keep this momentum,” said program graduate Stefen Whitmer. “I am grateful for the opportunity… it’s just like I want to jump out of my skin, it’s like my emotions are so, so big, I am trying to contain it but it feels great.”

“I am pretty excited,” said another graduate, Kevin Cressell. “I am excited to show off my skills to any employers who are interested; I am excited to move on and make things a success in my life… I am very appreciate. I am grateful. I am honored to go through this class. Our instructor, his name is George, he is an absolute whiz. I learned a lot from him. Hopefully, I can take that to the table and be an asset for the company I go to work with.”