January 25, 2023
The targeted workforce training and development program aims to diversify the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry.
Design and consulting firm WSB today announced that the company has launched its fourth Opportunity+ cohort. Opportunity+ is a workforce training and development program designed to prepare participants for long-term careers in the civil engineering industry. The program, first launched in January 2020, is a free and fast-paced training course led by experts from throughout the AEC industry. This year’s cohort has 17 participants enrolled.
From January through March, program participants will receive accelerated training through evening sessions. The flexible schedule allows participants to continue working during the day while completing the hands-on program. Upon completion of the program, participants will be prepared for careers as engineering technicians, survey crew members, construction materials technicians and site inspectors – all high-demand positions in civil engineering.
“This is our largest cohort to date, and I’m thrilled that we’re making real progress in building opportunities for all people interested in civil engineering,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and CEO. “We are committed to actionable change and to diversifying our industry. While many companies have a focus on diversity and inclusion, we’re creating real opportunity and it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch our participants build their careers both inside the walls of WSB and with our partners.”
In 2023, Opportunity+ expanded recruitment efforts into the veteran community with 56% of this year’s cohort identifying as veterans. The veteran community is another untapped talent market with a diverse population. Many veterans have skills that lend themselves well to civil engineering careers.
New this year is the addition of Opportunity+ hiring partners including Frattalone Companies, a construction firm specializing in civil site construction, James R. Hill, Inc., a full-service land development consulting firm, GeoWall Designs LLC, a retaining wall design company and Westwood Professional Services, a multi-disciplined land surveying and engineering company. Expanding and growing the program outside of WSB has been a long-term goal. In its fourth year, the program’s curriculum was at a place where it made sense to expand its reach across the industry to broaden hiring options for participants.
“Joining Opportunity+ as a hiring partner made complete sense,” said Nick Frattalone, Frattalone Companies’ Chief Executive Officer. “In today’s labor market, finding skilled workers is a challenge across our industry. The types of skills that are learned through the program are not only relevant to supporting our business operations, but also represent our commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts.”
Since the program’s inception, 17 participants have graduated. Opportunity+ was built to provide a pathway into the AEC industry for those that are generally underrepresented in it, specifically women and people of color. The intent of the program is to reduce and remove some of the barriers to a successful career in civil engineering.
“The current demand for civil engineering technicians far exceeds the available talent, and many qualified candidates don’t have the time or resources to complete formal education in this field,” said Julie Thiel, WSB’s vice president of human resources. “This year, we expanded our recruiting efforts and felt strongly about welcoming more partners into the fold. Building a more diverse workforce is not just one firm’s responsibility, but rather our entire industry’s and I’m looking forward to the future of this fast-growing program.”
Opportunity+ officially launched on January 24. The intent is to connect every cohort participant interested in pursuing a career in the industry to full-time positions following the program. They will be invited to interview for open positions with WSB and its hiring partners that can lead to greater responsibility and lifelong careers.