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DENVER — The sights, sounds and smells of new construction fill the air in the Denver metro area.

The building industry is in full bloom, except for one small detail: A severe lack of skilled construction workers.

“There is a 100 percent shortage of skilled construction workers here in Colorado and nationally,” said Michael Smith, Colorado Home Building Academy director.

It’s so bad the Association of General Contractors in Colorado estimates the need for skilled construction workers at more than 30,000 in the next five years.

That number does not include workers retiring, quitting and getting promoted to higher positions.

“They are already taking anywhere from 10 to 20 percent longer to build a house, and it’s due to the fact that we don’t have enough skilled labor in the field,” Smith said.

That’s why the Colorado Home Building Academy was created. It’s a sort of construction skills boot camp.

Students will learn hand tools, power tools, a variety of different saws, blueprint reading and just about everything one needs to know to start a career in construction.

It’s free and is only offered to those who want to work in the industry. The academy is not for weekend warriors or hobbyists.

Jesus Hernandez, an 18-year-old who is close to graduating from the academy, said he has his own blueprints for his career.

“By the end of graduation, I want to have my own little company and actually have my own money,” he said.