More women, minorities to enter St. Louis' construction industry -

More women, minorities to enter St. Louis' construction industry

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( -

A St. Louis not-for-profit is helping women and minorities find jobs in the construction industry.

MOKAN’s executive director Yaphett El-Amin says construction companies say women and minorities are not prepared for the construction business, so MOKAN is working to change that.

“So you’re looking for them, we’ve got them right here,” said El-Amin.

El-Amin says MOKAN's partnerships with Father’s Support Center and other area organizations help minorities and women get the proper training, certification, and  skills to be productive individuals in life and in the field of construction

“I was kind of down on my luck, got into a little trouble, in doing so I wasn’t unmotivated. I’ve always been motivated that wasn’t the problem, it was just that I couldn’t get accepted because of background and no support,” said Tony Jones.

Jones is one of the 19 people going through MOKAN’s training program. Some of them have been in trouble with the law or even in jail.

Jones is a dad and says he has always wanted to get into the construction trade, but didn’t know how to navigate it.

“This is a real career, this is helping me get in a real position in life and it’s going to make me live better,” said Jones.

MOKAN has been helping to give the missing link between minorities and women-owned businesses to the general construction population since 1972.

El-Amin says there are career fairs for the participants and they are sometimes hired on the spot. She says over the last 30 years, the population of construction jobs grew only one percent in St. Louis, from  7-percent to 8-percent.

She says if construction companies can’t find qualified people in St. Louis, they’ll go to another city to hire, meaning 70-cents of every dollar will go back to the community where they live.

With her program she says it all stay here in St. Louis.

“So when you talk about NGA we know that for years there were community rumblings about what it’s taking away from the community. Now here are opportunities from those same people who live in those communities to now work in those communities,” said El-Amin

She says providing jobs is also the best way to stop crime and eliminate poverty. 

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