CMHA Offers Residents New Career Path


The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA), alongside global coatings manufacturer The Sherwin-Williams Company, is taking the community by storm with brushes, rollers and buckets of paint.

According to reports, the Authority is hosting yet another free painting course through its Motivate Opportunity Vision Empowerment (M.O.V.E.) program. The program first launched in 2015 and is designed to assist residents in the area, Section 3 and HCV participants to reduce barriers so they can achieve economic self-sufficiency.

There are currently three opportunities that fall under the M.O.V.E. program. They include:

  • Employment Opportunity Program;
  • Sherwin-Williams Painting Class; and
  • First Learning Initiative.

Since the pandemic began, painting course trainer Bill Allman shared with Spectrum News 1 that the program has only grown more important as new workers entering the coatings industry are dwindling.

Recently, the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk reported in its 2022 Workforce Survey that severe workforce shortages are affecting small and large contractors.

According to Autodesk and AGC, all types of firms are experiencing workforce labor shortages. In an analysis of the data collected from the survey, officials found that nearly identical results were reported by contractors that use craft labor to firms that operate as open-shop employers.

Similar responses were also tallied by firms making $50 million or less in annual revenue and others making more than $500 million in revenue. All regions of the United States and contractors working in different construction sectors—such as building, highway and transportation, federal and heavy work, or even utility infrastructure—all submitted results indicating similar struggles across the board regarding workforce shortages.

In a press release on the survey results, Simonson noted that 93% of construction firms report they have open positions they are trying to fill. Among those firms, 91% are having trouble filling at least some of those positions—particularly among the craft workforce performing onsite in most cases.

Regarding specific craft positions, at least 70% of survey respondents said that filling 21 different craft positions were extremely difficult to fill. For eight of the 11 salaried positions covered in the survey, two-thirds or more reported that they are also difficult to fill.

“It’s critical in this marketplace,” Allman said. "Painting contractors are dying for help.”

Through the free program offered by CMHA and Sherwin-Williams, participants can enter a week-long class. The instructional course includes two days of classroom education and on-the-job training that include lessons on the basics of safety and even coat applications, as well as when and how to apply touch-ups.

During a recent class, participants in the program were able to give the local Winton Terrace community center a fresh coat of paint. According to Allman, all the subjects are intentional as he wants the students to witness the impact of their work first-hand.

Upon successful completion of the class, each participant receives their “EPA Lead-Safe” Certification and Sherwin-Williams Painter Training Certification, in addition to tools and materials to get started in their new career.

Each class totals 20 participants, which may include Asset Management residents, HCV participants and Section 3 individuals.

“Not only do I want to do this as a career, but I would like to train our youth that’s out here, that’s lost and that’s wandering the streets, don’t have anything to do or places to go,” said Cindy Shields, a recent graduate of the program. “I plan on showing them the ropes and getting them to starting their own painting business.”

Shields, alongside Allman and other graduates of the week-long program, recently attended a job fair that helped connect them with potential employers that could further their education on the job.

While women only make up about 9% of construction painters, Shields hopes to launch her own painting contracting company. To be named “She Paints,” Shields hopes that it will inspire more women to get involved in the skilled trade.

Other Recent Programs in OH, Elsewhere

Last month, after successfully launching the Urban Workforce Development Initiative (UWDI) in Cincinnati, contractor Messer announced it was planning to use the program to add more jobs in the construction industry through 2024.

Starting back in 1994, Messer partnered with social services nonprofit Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati to create a collaborative careers program.

While the labor shortage wasn’t quite as intense as what the construction industry is facing today, the program continually focused on using deconstruction work at Building Value, an architectural salvage outlet owned by Easterseals, to provide training related to the building industry.

Years later, in 2016, the UWDI initiative officially kicked off when Messer was chasing a healthcare contract for Cincinnati Children’s Critical Care Building. According to reports, Messer was aware that it would need to set itself apart from other firms.

To achieve this, Messer Vice President of Economic Inclusion Stan Williams helped to create UWDI to train locals and place them into permanent construction jobs. As part of its bid for the project, Messer pledged to fill 50 jobs with urban workers for the project.

To find potential trainees, Messer leveraged the program previously established with Easterseals. When eligible candidates were identified, they were placed into 12-week programs where they earned $9.15 an hour. Reports went on to share that each week, trainees were given a green dot if they were timely, had a good attitude at work, followed proper personal protection equipment guidelines and developed necessary soft skills.

After completing drug and background testing, Messer would then connect the worker with a subcontractor. Williams shared that getting the subcontractors onboard with the program was a matter of leveraging billions in backlog.

With the help of 16 different subcontractors and various social service groups, not only did Messer get the healthcare contract, but they also achieved their goal of filling 50 jobs with local workers.

The Cincinnati Children’s Critical Care Building was officially completed in November 2021.

Since completing the healthcare contract, the UWDI program has continued to evolve, now offering $10.15 to participants working at Building Value. In addition, when a trainee has successfully completed the 12-week program, they will receive a $1,000 bonus. Messer shares that it has also upped its sub visits to eight weeks instead of three months.

By 2024, Messer has pledged to add 45 jobs for locals. While the effort won’t solve the worker shortage, Williams shares that the group is continuing to assist participants with hurdles, such as work transportation.

In September, St. Louis-based construction industry workforce development initiative and consultancy ConstructReach brought more than 150 students together to learn about the construction industry at a Target remodeling project.

The “I Built This!” event took place from Sept. 14-15 in Bridgeton, Missouri.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ConstructReach has been conducting “I Built This!” events for five years. The workforce initiative was created to introduce the construction industry to a diverse, new generation.

The program also assists the industry as it continues to face an impending labor shortage crisis.

For the recent Target remodel project, students aged 16-18 from neighboring school districts participated in hands-on activities, including carpentry, fixturing, design and technology, mechanical and plumbing.

Several industry partners were also invited to participate in the two-day event. Those who were confirmed to have participated included S.M. Wilson & Co, Murphy Company, Thomas-Grace Construction, Wies Drywall, Bell Electrical, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council.

Over the course of the event, not only were students reportedly introduced to several trades within the industry, but attendees were also able to connect with general contractors and other construction professionals to discuss internships, job opportunities and scholarships.


Tagged categories: Business conditions; Business management; Business matters; Coatings education; Economy; Education; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Lead; NA; North America; Painting Contractors; Projects - Commercial; Sherwin-Williams; Worker training; Workers

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.