Construction Ready training – and some tough self-talk – put Jose Vera on a path to stability and success
When Jose Vera discovered CEFGA’s Construction Ready program, he was at a crossroads. He had finished a jail sentence and he needed a job. He had a family to provide for. It was time to take stock of his life and make a decision.
“I feel like there’s a God and He gave me a second chance, and it was the only chance I had left,” says Jose, a concrete laborer with Marietta-based C.W. Matthews Contracting Company. “I spoke to my wife, I looked at my kids, and I said to myself, ‘Hey, you gotta man up. You got responsibilities. Why don’t you give it a try?’”
Jose heard about Construction Ready while serving a community service sentence. He had some experience in brick masonry, but no credentials to his credit. With certifications such as NCCER Core, OSHA10-Hour and CPR/First Aid, the four-week Construction Ready curriculum offers students the opportunity to significantly build their resume in a short amount of time.
“That last job took a toll on me,” Jose remembers. “I had a family to take care of, and it wasn’t paying that much, so I was out there stealing, doing all types of bad stuff. But when I went into this program, it changed my life. I got serious, because they told me I would be getting credentials. They don’t guarantee a job, but they guarantee [the opportunity to earn] those credentials.”
Jose enrolled at Construction Ready’s Westside Works location and graduated with Group 24 in June 2018. It wasn’t easy, but “I stuck with it,” he says. “At the halfway mark, I wanted to drop out, because I wasn’t making any money, I lost my apartment, and I ended up moving in with my mother-in-law. Thank God she lived only five minutes away from Westside Works.”
After starting work with C.W. Mathews, Jose was able to move with his wife, two daughters and son to an apartment in Cobb County. Now he has a retirement fund, life insurance and health insurance, all things he never anticipated having before.
“My life has turned around completely,” he says. “I can even help other people who need help now. I couldn’t help people before because I needed to help myself. Now I’m happy that I can afford to help people.”
Jose’s next step with the company is to become a concrete finisher. Meanwhile he’s a vocal advocate for Construction Ready, encouraging friends, co-workers and other people he meets to consider going through it.
“I made a good friend working on job sites together,” he says. “I told him about Construction Ready and he’s thinking about [applying for] it himself and taking the 20-day pause from working. If there’s any possible way that I can spread the word and be like a billboard for the Construction Ready program, I’ll do it. I would love for more people who are in a predicament like I was to prosper.”