Alabama construction, workforce development leaders team to empower women

Alabama construction, workforce development leaders team to empower women
Women and daughters learn about career opportunities in the construction industry at the fourth annual Power UP: It's a Mother Daughter Thing! event on March 12, 2019. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

A growing number of women are finding career success doing construction work traditionally reserved for men. The problem is that many teenage girls and their mothers don’t know those opportunities exist.

To encourage more women to seek careers in construction, a group of volunteers started Power UP: It’s a Mother Daughter Thing! They held their fourth annual workshop Tuesday night in Birmingham, bringing hundreds of mothers and daughters together with successful women in the construction industry to become educated, engaged and explore career opportunities in carpentry, electrical, welding and plumbing.

“We are bringing the mothers and daughters together so that they can support one another and have a night out of intimate discussions with successful women in the industry,” said Rachel Roque, executive director of programs for Power UP. “It supports the young girls and also supports the parents, giving them some understanding of what the programs have to offer.”

'Power UP' attracting female participation in the construction workforce from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

According to a 2017 U.S. Department of Labor report, more than 11 million people work in the construction industry, yet only 9 percent are women. Roque says the organizations supporting Power UP need more women to fill jobs.

“We want an extra pipeline of women going into construction to fill the need for skilled craft employees.”

Among the dozens of contractors and businesses at Tuesday’s event was the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute, the architect of the Go Build Alabama initiative. Jason Phelps, executive director of the organization, says events like Power UP are important for women and the businesses that need to hire them.

“Our careers are seen as traditionally a male career, so anytime they can come to an amazing event like Power UP and get the opportunity to do some hands-on activities, to talk to some women in the trades or talk to other women that are involved with these companies, that opens that door mentally for them that says, ‘this is a real opportunity for me, this is something I can do,’” Phelps said. “There are not a lot of events like Power UP, so it’s really commendable for everybody involved that puts this event on and that comes and participates to expose these mothers and daughters to this great event.”

Power UP: It’s a Mother Daughter Thing! is a collaborative effort between Central Six AlabamaWorks Region 4, Girl’s Inc. of Central Alabama, AIDT/Alabama Workforce Training Center (AWTC), Wood and the Academy of Craft Training. Antiqua Cleggett, executive director of Central Six AlabamaWorks! and co-chair of Power UP, says the workshop will be in five locations worldwide in 2020, including Guam.

To learn more, visit poweruploud.org.

Related Stories