Columbus Urban League and The Superior Group partnering to diversify electrical workforce
Via Columbus Business First
By Bonnie Meibers
The Columbus Urban League and Superior Group are partnering to create a more inclusive pipeline for the trades in Central Ohio.
Superior Group, a locally based electrical and tech trade contracting company, plans to train, and eventually employ, women and minorities identified by the Columbus Urban League as part of the Diversity Pipeline Program. The Superior Group plans to fund the program for at least two years and hire more than 100 employees. Both partners said they envision the program to continue to grow after that period.
“We’re trying to tackle the need for thousands of construction jobs, but also the need for the workforce to be more diverse,” Superior Group CEO Bryan Stewart said.
The investment from the Superior Group makes removing barriers like transportation possible, said Columbus Urban League CEO Stephanie Hightower.
“The electrical trades and tech trades were not something our communities have been privy to,” Hightower said.
The program kicked off this fall, but Stewart said he and the Urban League have been working on this partnership for about two years.
“We want to be a catalyst for change,” Stewart said. “We can provide job opportunities, but we need partners. We went to the Urban League because they’re so trusted in the community.”
The Columbus-area construction industry is about 10% minorities and includes even fewer women, he said.
“We’re in a unique spot because our entry-level positions are pretty accessible, but we’re not exposing underserved communities to them.” Stewart said.
This program will become another option for the nearly 900 people currently on the waitlist for the Urban League’s Building Futures program. Participants in the Urban League’s Choose 2 Change program, which helps formerly incarcerated people get ready to transition back into society, can also benefit from this partnership.
“The tide has turned on the trades,” Hightower said.
The Urban League plans to help participants overcome barriers. They might partner with Columbus State to fill in education gaps, for example, or provide transportation assistance so participants can get to job sites.
“We know that minorities and underserved communities can be excellent employees and high-wage earners if they can access the resources and coaching needed to rise above tough barriers, such as poorer educational options and more limited access to employment,” Hightower said.
A large part of Superior Group’s business is construction of data centers around Central Ohio and hospital work. The firm is currently working on the new tower at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“Building a more diverse skilled workforce is essential to moving Ohio and our nation forward. We’re excited to accelerate these efforts together with the Columbus Urban League, a tremendous partner in our community,” Stewart said.
Candidates will be paid a stipend while they are being trained.
“At the end of the day, this is the right thing to do,” Stewart said. “But there’s also been a lot of reflection over the last two or three years. Do we want to be passive or active in this? Do we want to help things change?”
This program can help candidates have a career path that guides them to the middle class and beyond, Stewart said. The base rate for a Superior Group electrician is $37 an hour, he said.
“The career path is limitless,” he said.
Interested job candidates can contact the Columbus Urban League.
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