Class offers basics of building

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2001

FERRIDAY – Pete Davis’ mission is to dispel the myth that women don’t belong in construction work. Today, most heavy lifting and related construction tasks are done with machines, leveling the playing field for male and female workers. &uot;So there’s no reason that a woman who has the right training can’t do construction work,&uot;&160;Davis said.

And that is where Davis, a manager of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Women’s Services, comes in, coordinating a training program to teach women and minorities the basics of building roads and bridges.

Davis has been coordinating such classes throughout the state for three years now. His latest, a four-week building basics class in Winnsboro, had just nine attendees – a number he hopes to build in the future.

And although a specific date has not yet been set, Davis hopes to start a similar class late this month in Ferriday. First, he must begin convincing local construction firms to hire the workers he trains.

But Davis is convinced that hiring those workers would be a boon for the firms. Construction firms, he explained, often work on tight deadlines and balk at hiring any workers they believe will slow such work with inexperience or poor skills.

&uot;That’s why hiring these people is a good idea – because when we graduate them, they’re ready to work,&uot;&160;Davis said.

In a poorer area such as northeast Louisiana, women are often caught in the position of having to support families single-handedly on low wages from more traditional jobs.

Women might think they do not qualify for jobs like construction work or might not be able to find the necessary training for such jobs, Davis said.

Or they might believe that they would receive ill treatment on the job because they are women. Davis acknowledged that women can expect some ribbing on the job, at least at first.

&uot;But I tell them, ‘You’ve got to realize that this is something you’re doing for your family and just do the work,’&uot; Davis said. &uot;It’s an attitude adjustment.&uot;

Other job training classes with which Davis has been involved have included courses on computer, refrigeration and electrical work.

&uot;Our job is to bring women out of traditional, low-paying jobs into the higher-paying jobs that might not be so traditional,&uot;&160;Davis said.

For more information, contact the Governor’s Office of Women’s Services at (225) 922-0960.