In tandem with the company's data center construction projects, Facebook has created Hard Hat in Hand, a job training program to fuel building trades talent pipelines across the U.S. amid a labor shortage that is only expected to worsen.
The paid, eight-week program gives participants experience in electrical work, concrete, carpentry and sheet metalworking, according to a press release shared with Construction Dive. Amber Tillman, a community development manager for Facebook, told Construction Dive that participants will also be exposed to other related fields, such as masonry and HVAC work, and will receive OSHA-10 cards and CPR certifications.
The program will eventually have cohorts at all active data center construction sites, at 13 locations in states including Texas, Ohio, New Mexico and Nebraska. Some of the contractors that have partnered with Facebook in this initiative include DPR and Turner, according to Tillman. Currently, there are two active cohorts, one in Altoona, Iowa, with nine people that will start next week, and one in Prineville, Oregon, with 11 people that is currently underway.
Tillman said that the goal of the program is to increase the skilled trades talent pipeline in areas where the centers are being built and boost diversity in construction overall. Participants must have a high school diploma or equivalent and be above the age of 18. No prior experience is required to join.
"It's kind of a win-win for the construction industry and for the job seekers who might not have known that this was a viable path to a rewarding career," Tillman said.
Prepping for the future
The program offers four weeks of classroom instruction, for which participants are paid minimum wage. After that, participants are paid at the hourly rate of entry-level tradespeople in their chosen field.
Tillman said that all of the graduates of the five pilot programs were offered jobs at the end of the training period through their partners. The program also works with local workforce development agencies, such as Ohio Means Jobs.
Tillman said they were focused on finding people who were determined and had a strong interest in construction.
"As long as they are driven [and] excited about the program, we're hoping that people will stay in the industry," Tillman said.
The construction industry, as a whole, is hurting for workers. In March, construction employment fell almost 7% year over year, and demand for laborers is only going to go up, as another 1 million hires are expected to become necessary over the next two years to keep pace with growing demand.
Registration for local Hard Hat in Hand programs will occur over Facebook, said Tillman, and interested people should keep their eyes out for updates regarding opportunities near them.