Student taking electrical training while the instructor observes.
Ruben Rodriguez taking a course in electrical trainingDavid NorstromAdrian Daily

As area residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey work to repair their homes, many are finding a shortage of construction workers, electricians and others who can do the work. A new College of the Mainland Construction Trades Center which offers courses in construction trades will be able to prepare needed workers through a Hurricane Harvey Fast-Track training.

For 20-year-old Ruben Rodriguez of Texas City, courses in electrical training has been an eye-opening experience. For the few weeks he has been enrolled in the program offered at the Community Family Center in Texas City, Rodriguez is learning about safety, wiring for household items like a washer and dryer, ceiling fan, dishwasher and overhead lights.

“I didn’t know anything at all,” said Rodriguez. “It was really obvious. They’d talk about amps and stuff and I didn’t know how it worked. I just knew that you flipped a switch and the lights would come on.”

The hands-on training has Rodriguez working on a mock home constructed inside the 9,000-square-foot area at the Community Family Center.  When completed with the training, Rodriguez will be able to work at any construction site alongside a journeyman. Rodriguez, however, is interested in learning more and is considering enrolling in courses for HVAC work as well as plumbing.

The goal of the Hurricane Harvey-Fast Track training provided with funding from Texas Workforce Commission is to provide basic helper skills that puts people to work quickly to support the restoration efforts after the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.

Classes are being offered in electrical, HVAC, carpentry, drywall, painting, plumbing and masonry. All students will have the OHSA 10 safety credential upon completion of the program.

David Wall, the program coordinator, said students will learn just about everything about building a home, including working with scaffolding, extension ladders, how to tile floors, hang cabinets as well as the safety aspects such as when to wear a respirator, if painting.

David Norstrom’s home in Santa Fe was spared during the hurricane but many of his friends and family were not. Although he has completed some home projects, the retired Norstrom, 64, said he wanted the training in order to “work alongside his family and friends who suffered devastation. This program will give me the basics.”

For more information about Fast-Track Construction Training Courses, call the college at 409-933-8586. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.