City hopes construction apprenticeships usher in new generation of builders

With construction booming in Tampa, city leaders are pushing for apprenticeships to be part of the equation. 

A record $4.5-billion worth of construction happened in 2020. On projects paid for by the city, some want to see a new generation learning the trade.

"It’s giving people a chance," explained Tampa City Council Member Luis Viera. "This is about making sure that young people have a chance to use their God-given potential out their in the market."

Tampa City Council passed the new apprentice ordinance that says 12% of the labor hours on a project will be performed by apprentices. The mayor says it will open opportunities.

"We all have a focus on ending systematic inequities that we have seen throughout our community on a number of different levels," said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. 

The mayor and other officials rolled out the new program Monday amid a major expansion of the city’s McKay Bay sanitation facility with more projects to follow. 

Opponents like the Florida Builders and Contractors Association say it could drive costs up for taxpayers. And there’s proposed legislation in Tallahassee that could nullify Tampa’s new apprentice ordinance and similar programs in other cities and counties. 

Tampa has $3 billion in water and sewer fixes coming up. If the ordinance stands, supporters say it could be a career turning point for thousands. 

"It’s a pathway to the middle class," continued Viera. "Not by giving them something, but by challenging them."