Just three weeks after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called for training and placing 20,000 low-income Boston residents “in good jobs by the year 2022” in his Jan. 1 inaugural address, a successful program that helps minority and women students gain valuable construction industry experience paired students with industry mentors on an active construction. In its sixth year, the Construction Mentor Program is also helping address worker shortages on the city’s construction sites—where the Boston Resident Job policy requires construction companies to hire at least 40% minorities and at least 12% women.
From now until May, eight students from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology will spend one day per month shadowing their assigned mentors on the approximately 90,000-sq-ft Klarman Hall project at Harvard Business School.
Run by Boston-based Compliance Mentor Group LLC—a full-service diversity compliance firm for the construction industry—the program has had 40 students complete the full program in the last five years. All 40 students are now working in the industry or are working towards higher education degrees in the industry, according to program organizers.
Christopher Hanson, 30, graduated from the program and from Benjamin Franklin last year, and is now a field engineer at Callahan Construction Managers. “Things clicked about information we were tested about in class,” Henson said in a press release.
Each fall, the program begins with 30 to 40 students who are then narrowed down to eight finalists through three phases. Chosen based on their academic record and aptitude and interest in construction, the finalists are paired up with mentors through the winter and spring.
“The program allows contractors and subcontractors to mentor young people and find skilled workers,” says Nicole Richer, who owns the Compliance Mentor Group. “The students gain valuable workforce readiness skills and get to network with construction professionals.”
Serving as construction manager for the Klarman Hall project, Walsh Brothers is partnering with the program for the second straight year. “The energy and the drive we have seen in the students who come to our job sites from [Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology] would have made Ben Franklin proud,” says Richard C. Walsh, Walsh Brothers chief executive.
Walsh also says his firm is “committed through our own apprenticeship programs and CMP student training to ensure a diverse and talented workforce.”
In previous years, the students from the program visited seven other project sites, including five others at Harvard. The program has also partnered with five other construction managers over the years, including Lee Kennedy Co. Inc., Shawmut Design and Construction, Bond Brothers, John Moriarty and Associates Inc. and CWC Builders.
“Every year, it has been eye opening for our students to begin to understand all that goes into a commercial project,” says Emily Leopold, Benjamin Franklin’s director of career services and industry partnerships. “Mentees witness first-hand the monumental level of coordination that is necessary between a variety of stakeholders and contractors in order to complete an extremely complex project on-time and within budget.”