Construction Ready (and Construction Ready PLUS) equipped Lacoia Stevenson for a career in plumbing
CEFGA’s Construction Ready training is often described as a boot camp-style regimen. It’s four weeks of intensive classroom and hands-on instruction, and each student is expected to meet high standards of discipline and effort. The program’s name is no exaggeration – when a student graduates, he or she truly is ready to work in the construction business.
Lacoia Stevenson discovered as much after she finished her training with Group 2 at Construction Ready’s Aerotropolis location in October 2017. While she didn’t find a job initially, she eventually was hired by Quanta Telecommunications. She went to work on a large-scale Atlanta-area project, where she did everything from digging, trenching and laying fiber to pipefitting, flagging and cleanup.
“With Construction Ready, I feel like I was really well prepared for that environment,” says Lacoia, a New York native who moved to Atlanta when she was 7. “I wouldn’t have survived without that preparation, especially the attention to safety, which is so important out there. If you can get through it, it gives you the thick skin that you need in the industry. Once you get out there into the field, you’re ready. It really lives up to the name.”
Lacoia’s previously worked as a teacher’s assistant in the Dekalb County School District. She was considering a career change when she learned about Construction Ready from a flier a friend handed her.
“I’ve always had an interest in construction,” she says. “I didn’t know so many women were drawn to it. I think that’s why I never really pursued it, because I didn’t have the support [from people close to her] to make that change. I just came to a point where I said I’m going to check it out and see what it’s about. Construction Ready was a safer environment to learn in and see if this is what I want to do.”
A Decatur resident, Lacoia now works in the plumbing division of McKenney’s, Inc. As a member of Local Union 72, she’s found her colleagues to be extraordinarily helpful and encouraging.
“It’s a really team-oriented environment,” she says. “Everybody on my team is with Local 72, so we have that bond. Everyone is willing to train me. It doesn’t matter who they send me to, I know I’m going to get trained. That’s what I really love about it.”
Lacoia also has advanced her skills and knowledge through CEFGA’s new Construction Ready PLUS program. Funded by a grant from the Home Depot Foundation, the training takes place on Saturdays and helps students earn additional credentials such as OSHA 30-Hour and Advanced Blue Print Reading.
Lacoia says Construction Ready PLUS has given her more confidence and credibility in her day-to-day work.
“Foremen are impressed when you go to a job and you’ve got blueprints training and you’re familiar with these things,” she says. “A foreman will say, ‘Have you ever read a blueprint before?’ and I can say, ‘Yeah, we do that in class,’ and they’ll get excited about that. At that point, they want to show you more.
“I don’t know if I want to be a foreman, but I definitely know what my options are and I know what that would entail,” she adds. “If I want to move up, I know that opportunity is open to me.”
VIDEO: Construction Ready at Aerotropolis graduate Lacoia Stevenson discusses her decision to change careers and the readiness she gained for her new hands-on job through CEFGA training. Follow us on our YouTube channel to hear about more successful construction careers in Georgia.