Workforce training can be a launching pad into a rewarding, well-paying career that might otherwise be unavailable to people with a criminal record. That was the message NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke delivered during a Sept. 22 discussion on criminal justice reform hosted by the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
Fowke spoke as part of an RGA panel exploring approaches to criminal justice reform that change lives – and the system – at the same time.
"NAHB and its educational arm, the Home Builders Institute (HBI), have a proven track record of success working with justice-involved individuals, training hundreds of youth and adults every day and pairing them with open positions in the residential construction industry to promote positive re-integration into society," said Fowke.
"These fast-paced and exciting programs offer participants a second chance for a bright future and construction employers access to urgently needed skilled workers in the face of sustained labor shortages across the industry," he added.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee moderated the panel. Joining Fowke on the panel were Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, as well as Doug Howard, senior vice president of Maximus, and Merisa Heu-Weller, director of Microsoft's Criminal Justice Reform Initiative.
"A strong, well-trained workforce is critical to the residential construction industry," Fowke said. "It can help make quality homes and apartments affordable to families across the economic spectrum. But having a strong workforce does not just benefit customers. A career in the building trades can be rewarding and incredibly satisfying."
HBI instructors and program staff help prepare students to transition into meaningful careers in the building industry. They do this through individual mentoring, and by teaching important lessons in resume writing, interviewing, and other life skills.
Republican governors seek best practices in education, workforce training, mental health and rehabilitation services to help give a second chance at life to people serving out a sentence.
Fowke noted that HBI is well suited to help justice-involved individuals make the most of that second chance as they transition back to life outside of the prison system.
"These individuals can help build much-needed homes and apartments for families, even as they build a career and a better life for themselves," Fowke said.