Construction Ready Gave Katanga Yasa the Opportunity He Sought to Begin a Career in the Industry

Before Katanga Yasa entered the construction industry, he was an assistant manager for a retail store chain. He knew he wanted a career change, he had a vision for what he wanted to do, and Construction Ready proved to be exactly what he needed to jumpstart the process.

“My goal was to get into construction project management,” says Katanga, a native of Zambia who moved to the U.S. in 2008. “I didn’t want to go to school and rack up a lot of debt. I wanted something where I could start with an understanding of the basics, so I said, ‘I need to find a program that will help introduce me to the construction industry.’ I needed to find a way to just get my foot in the door. During the process of trying to find programs that would do that, I ran across a CEFGA flier for Construction Ready.”

A Kennesaw resident, Katanga enrolled in Construction Ready at Build Cobb and graduated in June 2019. He was hired immediately by Parker Young Construction, a disaster recovery and repair specialist, and has taken on a variety of roles with the company – from field worker on an asbestos crew to warehouse assistant to his current role as a project clerk.

He says it’s all been helpful, with each day another step toward his ultimate goal.

“Starting out in asbestos was a different thing, with the protective gear and learning how to respect the work of an asbestos crew,” Katanga recalls. “You’re working in July and it’s 100 degrees outside, but you have to stay disciplined and keep yourself protected at all times, with respirators and body suits and all those things. That was something new that I think a lot of people might underestimate the importance of – they don’t really see the impact of asbestos – so that’s something that was a really good learning experience.

“Now, as a project clerk, I am looking at everything,” he continues. “We have framers, we have roofers, we have carpenters, we have plumbers. I can see how all those things work and it kind of gives me an idea of the whole scope of construction, and also lets me build relationships with superintendents and supervisors.”

Like many of his fellow graduates who have found success in construction, Katanga has become an informal ambassador for CEFGA and Construction Ready.

“When I meet people, I try to share information on Construction Ready, especially with young people trying to figure out what they want to do,” he says. “Hopefully that helps them out in the way that it has for me.

“Even with the folks that I work with right now – they’ll say, ‘How do you know all these regulations in construction?’ And I’ll be like, ‘I took a class.’ When I started, I would tell them I have these credentials, and they would be like, ‘Where did you get that from?’ Because a lot of people have to pay for those things. So I’m happy that I was able to do them for free. All I had to do was dedicate my time to it.”

Katanga says those four weeks he spent in Construction Ready – with the sacrifice of having no income during that period – are clearly paying off today.

“It was a huge step back, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he says. “It’s given me an opportunity to get into something that I really wanted to get into. It’s a work in progress, but I feel like I’m making the necessary steps to get where I want to be. Without Construction Ready, I don’t think I would be able to [progress] as much as I have. It’s been a great step towards what I want to pursue.”

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