A new free vocational training program hopes to attract more women to the construction industry in north Texas and is aimed at those who live in south Dallas – where unemployment is three times higher than the rest of the county.

The six-week Women In Construction course offers professional training, industry certifications and job placement assistance.

Part of United Way’s Southern Dallas Thrives initiative, the course focuses on helping black and Latinx women in southern Dallas gain access to higher-paying jobs and improve labor equity.

“Many of the people we work with have differences from the Southern Sector, and we’ve seen them grow and grow exponentially over the past year and a half,” said Ashley Douglas, senior director of United Way’s Southern Dallas Thrives Initiative .

In addition to training, the program provides transportation and accommodation resources while attending the course to help overcome obstacles that would prevent them from completing the training.

“You can’t necessarily focus on the curriculum if you’re concerned about housing or don’t have access to food for your family,” said Douglas. “So these are all the necessary resources that we know our participants will need to be successful in any training or curriculum we can offer.”

Jasmine Wallace was among the first to graduate from the program that summer.

She actually quit a job in construction to expand her skills through the program.

“You don’t see too many women [in construction] So it’s a good thing to have someone on our support team who is really pushing the problem and trying to get more women on the job, ”said Wallace.

Michelle Wheeler also completed the program.

“It’s a great addition to the skills I already have in this construction program,” said Wheeler. “It really opened up a lot of possibilities. My goal for the future is simply to be independent and to be able to help others. “

Douglas said more than 60% of graduates from the first program got into the construction industry immediately after graduating.

No experience is required to sign up for the program.

To enroll in the Women In Construction program, visit United Way.