Puerto Rico gov’t offers construction workshops to certify $15 pay
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced the start of a series of workshops to certify current and new construction workers in order to increase the workforce to address the recovery work after Hurricane Maria.
The first training cycle, “Así Construimos,” or “This is how we Build,” will take place at the Puerto Rico Convention Center on Dec. 11 and 12 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The courses will be free of charge, but pre-registration is required on www.construimos.pr, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 30.
The governor said Puerto Rico will receive more than $70 billion in reconstruction funds. Among the funds are over $37 billion for reconstruction from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than $19 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and insurance payouts, thus a trained workforce to perform these works will be required.
He said the government estimates there are 40,000 to 45,000 construction workers in Puerto Rico, but to “maximize the opportunities for residents within the recovery work,” the objective is to raise that figure to 150,000.
“Our government has directed a process to prepare this new labor force, visualizing all the capital that will arrive in the island, so it is imperative to have all the companies and personnel ready to work and build more effectively and quickly,” Rosselló said.
The executive director of the Central Office of Recovery and Reconstruction (COR3), Omar Marrero, specified that this first training series will count as 15 “contact hours” for credits in several skills such as joinery, masonry, electrical, plumbing and painting.
The workshops will provide basic knowledge of Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations and Puerto Rico’s building code. They are also intended to teach workers about industry regulations and best practices, as well as construction-work laws and regulations.
The seminars are expected to be carried out across the island’s municipalities in the future.
To questions from the press about the resources that will be used to offer the workshops, Marrero said the courses will be conducted by various agencies in conjunction with private sector suppliers. The official stressed that the first workshops have a 500-person quota, meaning the first who register on the website, www.construimos.pr
Marrero explained that the idea of the workshops is for participants to be certified so they can earn the $15 an hour minimum wage for construction workers in government contracts.
Economic Development Manuel Laboy highlighted the efforts of the administration to professionalize and provide resources to workers “to address the recovery of Puerto Rico in a holistic manner,” and the “maximization of federal funds,” initiatives with the Department of Education for the technical development in vocational schools as well as asking Puerto Ricans stateside to return to work on the island’s reconstruction.