GARY - The only remaining program of its kind to come out of President Lyndon B. Johnson ’s executive order to recruit disadvantaged populations into the building trades is setting its sights on expanding from Gary and Indianapolis to South Bend, Fort Wayne and Evansville. The Indiana Plan for Equal Employment is a nonprofit program that helps women and minorities find jobs in the construction industry. 

Indiana Plan works with a dozen building-trades apprenticeship programs to support people who want to break in to the industry. The program helps participants prepare for the apprenticeship aptitude test, works with them on interviewing techniques and résumé preparation and alerts them of openings in the field.

Indiana Plan Executive Director Devon Doss tells Inside INdiana Business that the program has a high success rate and offers the opportunity for participants to get on a job site while they work toward a formal apprenticeship.

“In my five years here, I feel like we have been very successful in getting people and the individuals that come through the program and complete it actually get an opportunity to get out in the job site and work. Right now, we are at a 92% placement rate so we partner with the different trades and try to send individuals out when they have the need and get them opportunities on the job site while they're working toward their formalized apprenticeships.”

Participants who complete the program can enter one of 14 apprenticeship programs in the union trades to become bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, glaziers, heat and frost insulators, ironworkers, laborers, millwrights, operating engineers, painters, plumbers and pipefitters, roofers and sheet metal workers.

According to officials, the last session graduated 26 students, including 13 women.

The program is supported an annual grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. All fees to enroll in the program are covered by the funding, so there is no cost to participants. 

Indiana Plan runs eight classes a year: four in Indianapolis and four in Gary.