A year ago, Frank De La Torre was washing dishes in a local restaurant. Kierre McMorris dropped out of high school and hadn't held a job in two years.
McMorris "never thought" he'd be doing what both young men are now -- working full-time for Rummel Construction.
"Until you actually get out there and try you don't know what you can achieve," he told ABC15.
The Arizona Highway Construction Workforce Pilot Program is preparing to begin training its next cohort in June.
"We want to make sure that people are aware that if traditional school wasn't for you and you didn't quite finish -- it just didn't work out -- then there are other opportunities," said Mary Alejandro, community and business liaison for the City of Phoenix.
Phoenix partnered with Maricopa County, state construction associations, ADOT and ARIZONA@WORK to launch the program targeted at young people between 18 and 24-years-old who are not currently enrolled as students.
Participants go through a week-long industry readiness class and, thanks to eight partner contractors including Rummel, are guaranteed a job upon completion of the 10-week program.
"These folks can come back here and say, hey, look, I helped build that and that's a point of pride for them," said David Martin, President of Arizona Chapter Associated General Contractors.
Martin said the lowest studies show there are at least 10,500 construction jobs unfilled in Arizona but he'd "be willing to guess that's more like 20,000."
Rummel senior equipment specialist Jim Mattison said the company has already seen success through the program thanks to the participants' work ethic. "When I see people like that -- that actually have enthusiasm, that impresses me," he said.
"That makes me want to teach them and make them the best that they can be."
Two information sessions are being held this month and are open to the public:
- Tuesday, May 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Chicanos Por La Causa, 619 N. 7th Avenue.
- Thursday, May 17, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Valley of the Sun YMCA Maryvale, 3825 N. 67th Avenue.