By Kelly Kupcak for the Portland Business Journal
The cranes continue to take prominence in Portland’s landscape as the city is witnessing unprecedented growth from regional infrastructure investments. Construction is Oregon's fastest-growing sector, expanding by nearly 10 percent in the last year, according to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Like the rest of the nation, the demand for skilled labor is at a critical juncture in Oregon. In the Portland metro area, this demand is increasing, as demonstrated by the 2018 labor market study commissioned by Metro and the City of Portland.
Career opportunities in the construction industry, however, have not historically been accessible to everyone in the community. As the region is rapidly becoming more diverse, there is significant opportunity for this increased diversity to be reflected in business growth, workforce training, and employment, who can benefit from strategic investment in a sector approach prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion.
The regional and collaborative approach connecting minority-owned businesses and under-represented workforce to the opportunities in the construction sector, both growth across the industry and significant economic reinvestment can be made to benefit communities across the region. With a focus on workforce, Oregon Tradeswomen is an example of a nonprofit organization that helps bridge the gap in connecting historically underrepresented populations to opportunities in the skilled trades workforce – an industry hungry for talent.