Construction boom creates worker shortage in Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The fastest growing industry in San Francisco happens to be construction, according to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The boom has created a shortage of workers across the Bay Area, but the city is hoping to train more apprentice laborers to begin filling some of those jobs. They are searching for young people in underserved communities.

It wasn't that long ago that construction jobs in the Bay Area were hard to find. Today, builders can't hire enough workers to get the job done. "It's growing at a 12 percent rate. It just really speaks to the development that is going on downtown," reports Deputy Director of Workforce Development Katherine Daniel.

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City officials say it has a moral obligation to spread the wealth by training people who live in communities like the Bay View, Potrero and the Sunnydale housing projects. "We need to lift everybody up, we want to make sure everybody feels a part of the success of our city," said Interim Mayor Mark Farrell.

Willie Woodson enrolled in the city's Gleneagles Academy Construction Training Program. Eight weeks later, he's a trained laborer apprentice who will likely join Local Union 261 earning nearly $20 an hour with benefits. "I'm not currently in school, I have a daughter so I'm just trying to make a better living for my family right now," said Woodson.

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From here they can be hired by city employers like the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Recreation and Park and Public Works. "I had to push myself to get into this because at first I doubted myself like I wasn't going to do it and when I did it, I got a little feeling, 'look at me now,'" said Colleen Atanoa who grew up in the Sunnydale housing projects. She also graduated on Tuesday.

Officials said the next training begins on Monday.

For more information call the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development at 415-701-4848.

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