Hands-on construction training project pushes increased diversity

MADISON, Wis. — SSM Health’s new south-Madison clinic on Fish Hatchery Road is going up with the help of a diverse workforce.

SSM set a goal of 8-10% diversity for the construction workforce.

Regional President Damond Boatwright says he hopes this project becomes a model of best practices for the future.

“I think it has the real true potential of keeping communities together versus divisive projects that cause more erosion in the trust that should be built up for long-term relationships to be established,” Boatwright said.

Another goal for the project is providing a space for people to train in a mentor-protegee program. A partnership between SSM, Findorff, The Urban League of Greater Madison and Operation Fresh Start is bringing that goal to life.

“It’s more than just a resume. They’re actually getting the job shadow experience,” Jason Henkins, a grad crew supervisor with Operation Fresh Start, said. “This allows people to see the work day in and day out for months at a time and allows them that step forward to get a job.”

A diverse group of people interested in the construction trades are working side-by-side with Findorff’s team, helping frame walls inside the new building. They’ll return to the work site in March to help with drywall work.