WASHINGTON - According to John Castellani, president, Business Roundtable, more than 8,500 Gulf Coast residents have participated in a new program to provide training for construction jobs to help rebuild the Gulf Coast region following the devastating hurricanes of 2005.

He reported this to the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee during the hearing on Gulf Coast rebuilding and recovery efforts. Castellani provided an update for the committee on the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Initiative; a Roundtable-led program launched late last summer with the goal of recruiting and training 20,000 new construction craft workers by the end of 2009.

“By the end of April, the Initiative had trained more than 5,000 workers in needed construction skills,” he said. “In addition, another 3,500 are currently enrolled in programs in Mississippi, Louisiana and recently established courses in Texas.”

Member companies of the Roundtable, an association of 160 CEOs of the largest companies in the nation, and affiliated partners are committing up to $5 million over four years to fund the Initiative. The construction training classes also receive money from the federal government and state programs.

In addition, Castellani said that the success of the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Initiative is due to the support of a large number of active partners, from the public and private sectors. Partners also include colleges, contractors, labor unions, businesses, and a large number of other groups. Initiative partners have been seeking to assist those who complete their training in the securing of construction jobs.

In his testimony, Castellani also discussed the Business Roundtable Partnership for Disaster Response Task Force, which is working to improve and coordinate the private sector response to catastrophes. The Roundtable launched the effort in May of 2005 following the tsunami in Indonesia. Recognizing the important role of the private sector, the Partnership has developed a protocol for response to large-scale disasters, and created a clearinghouse of information and resources for companies planning and communicating during disasters.

For more information, visit www.respondtodisaster.org.

Publication date:06/04/2007