Colorado Homebuilding Academy prepares laborers for home building workforce

DENVER — In just five weeks, Nathaniel Baldwin has come a long way from the information technology work he once knew.

"I was the one that kind of kept all the servers running, kept all the websites up, that sort of thing," Baldwin described.

Today, instead of servers, he's learning to run power tools at Colorado Homebuilding Academy.  The eight-week bootcamp teaches students the ins and outs of home building to prepare them for the work force. The best part: it's free.

"You'd be surprised how quickly you can pick it up and start to make very precise cuts and measurements and that sort of thing," Baldwin said.

Workers like Baldwin are desperately needed. The recession in 2008 forced many laborers out. That, combined with Colorado's booming population, and there's just too much work and not enough workers.

"The Association of General Contractors commissioned an economic impact study about construction and labor shortage, and they're using a number of about 30,000 people over the next five years in Colorado alone," said Colorado Homebuilding Academy Director, Michael Smith.

It's why Smith jumped on board when Pat Hamill, CEO of Oakwood Homes, contacted him about starting the construction school. Hamill's company helped make the dream a reality by helping back it financially. Their hope, to help solve the labor problems of today, while developing the workforce of tomorrow.

"We have a completion program percentage of about 91 percent," Smith said. "Of those, it's about 90 percent now of those who are completing, getting a job in the industry."

Baldwin is no exception. He still has three weeks left in the course and already has a field supervising job on the horizon.

"Obviously Denver is experiencing kind of phenomenal growth," Baldwin said.  "It's an industry that I can feel proud to be a part of."

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