BANGOR, Maine — When walking onto a construction site it is still pretty rare to see women wielding hammers, but times are a changing and one local group is helping to train females how to use the tools of the trade.
The Construction Boot Camp, which is open to women, minorities and disadvantaged workers, is hosted by Women Unlimited and sponsored by the Maine Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
The goal is to expose participants to what it takes to work in the construction field.
“They’re going to get a pretty basic set of skills to help them in getting employment,” Lib Jamison, Women Unlimited executive director, said Friday. “They are introduced to blueprint reading, construction math, and are introduced to hand and power tools.”
They are also taught job readiness skills, such as how to fill out job applications, write resumes and interview, and are certified in workplace safety under Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“We start out with safety,” said Art Jasmin, an instructor for the program. “They end up with an OSHA-10” certificate, which signifies 10 hours of safety training.
Teaching construction skills was picked by Women Unlimited for several reasons, the biggest one being money, Jamison said.
“It pays a livable wage,” she said. “We want our people to come out earning a decent amount of money.”
Another reason construction was picked is because many disadvantaged people are held back by the fact they have committed felony crimes, which can close doors, Jamison said.
“This door is open,” she said.
Three of the four women enrolled in the 2-week training program have served time in prison and are in the Woman’s Reentry Center in Bangor, Jasmin said.
Successfully completing Construction Boot Camp program also is required for participants to take other classes with Women Unlimited, such as welding, commercial driving and using heavy equipment.
On Friday, the four participants got their hands dirty welding in the New England School of Metalwork’s Mobile Weld Training Center.
“They’re getting a taste of what it would be like to get a welder,” Jasmin said.
The boot camp “really gives them a background, an overview, so they have a better idea” of what construction work is all about.
Those interested in finding out more about the program can contact Women Unlimited at 623-7576 or 800-281-5259, or at their website, womenunlimited.org.