Foundational partnership formed to fill skills gap in construction trades

Foundational partnership formed to fill skills gap in construction trades

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs ………. Okaloosa County School District is on target with training students for great career opportunities in the construction industry. Alan Baggett with Building Industry Association, Randy Wise with Randy Wise Homes, Inc., Marion Skalicky with Ruckel Properties, Administration, and other guests were excited to tour the newly opened Construction Program at the Laurel Hill School in North Okaloosa County.

Ken Jackson, carpentry instructor at Laurel Hill, Nick Rogers, carpentry instructor at the Baker School, and Dan Meinecke, the Electrical instructor at Crestview High School have moved from the industry into education. The men all share a passion for helping the next generation to find their path to meaningful and rewarding careers. “They each bring a wealth of experience and talent into our classrooms,” said April Branscome, Director of Career & Technical Education.

On Monday, September 17, members from local construction companies, the Building Industry Association, teachers, school and district administration “laid the bricks” for a foundational partnership to fill the skills gap in the construction trades. Our students will learn from industry experts, have opportunities for field trips, site visits, internships, work-study programs, and apprenticeships to learn about and experience exciting and rewarding careers.

Alan Baggett, Executive Vice President with the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, Inc., stated, “This partnership is important for our region as it addresses several critical challenges facing our current labor pool; the skills gap, an aging workforce, and the lack of a talent pipeline for the construction industry.”

Through the partnership, Okaloosa County School District construction programs at Baker School, Crestview High School, and Laurel Hill School will have the opportunity to become members of the Future Builders of America, where they will gain industry experience and network with industry professionals.

In today’s competitive world, many people believe that a four-year college education is required to be successful. However, a traditional four-year degree is not necessary to earn high wages, with benefits. Skilled trades are in more demand than at any time in the last 20-30 years. The opportunities are endless for young adults.

Through this partnership, students will learn the value of trade skills, work ethic, critical thinking, problem- solving, craftsmanship, and attention to the details. They will be better prepared for their adult life, regardless of what path they choose to follow.