Building Homes, Trade Partners In Alabama

Filed in Construction Industry, NAHB Cares by on August 24, 2016 1 Comment

Alicia Huey and Taylor Burton tour a playhouse built by the student carpenters.

Alabama home builders are helping high school students find careers in the trades in a program that’s paying great dividends – in both community recognition and finding the next generation of workers.

“With the housing market on the upswing and the construction workforce aging, there’s an ever-increasing need for qualified, skilled tradespeople entering the home building industry,” said Todd Slyman, past president of the Alabama Home Builders Foundation, which launched the program last year.

The builders are already seeing success with programs they have launched for aspiring plumbers and carpenters – and see HVAC professionals as the next trade on their list to tackle.

Future Plumbers Get In-School Training

In 2015, the foundation partnered with the Alabama Plumbers & Gas Fitters Examining Board, Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders member Wrendon Davis of Davis Plumbing, and the Huntsville/Madison County Builders Association (HMCBA) to put together a two-year program for juniors and seniors at the Madison County Career Technical Center.

The Plumbers and Gas Fitters provided expertise while Davis and the HMCBA worked tirelessly to provide funding by reaching out to local members (mainly plumbers) to raise the capital needed to start up the new program.

Local HMCBA members, the HMCBA and the HMCB Foundation donated $14,250 and the material and expertise to get the program up and running.

Each student gets a board-issued apprenticeship card and learns the trade over the next two years, with tools ad materials donated by the foundation and local plumbing businesses.  At graduation, the students take the journeyman plumber’s license test, their ticket to employment.  The program is in its second school year in the Madison County School system.

The pilot program has already led to interest from schools in Shelby County, Leeds, Montgomery and Mobile.

Carpenters: In the Groove

The foundation took a different tack with the carpentry trade. Targeting interested students over 18, the classes are held in high school facilities, but after hours, with high school shop teachers “moonlighting” as instructors for the course.

The classes take place two days a week for eight weeks – and have graduated more than 60 aspiring carpenters so far in three locations around the state.

Graduates of the Shelby County carpentry program show off their certificates.

Graduates of the Shelby County carpentry program show off their certificates of completion.

Students learn the basics of residential carpentry, jobsite safety, how to read a blueprint, framing, and how to install windows, doors, siding and exterior trim. When they’re finished, they receive a certificate of completion from the HBA of Alabama.

“Our carpentry program is just one example of the opportunities we offer to give those wanting to pursue a career in the home building industry a great head start with the skills they need,” said this year’s foundation president, Joe Daffron.

Generous donors to foundation fundraisers like its annual golf tournament, gifts from local businesses and a National Housing Endowment award help defray the costs. And as the program grows, foundation director Artemis Moore said, there may be opportunities to sell the projects the students work on in the class, such as the playhouses that one class built this year. “The program can become almost self-sustaining,” she said. 

But the biggest reward – and the outcome that makes supporting the programs such an easy sell for Alabama home builders and their trade partners – is that a smoothly running program creates motivated workers who have comprehensive training under their belts.

“We know our program is a great program, and we are excited to benefit our community and also help our members,” Moore said. “I think it’s great because by doing this, members can see that when they donate to us, their money is being invested back to workers that they can hire.”

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  1. Wonderful public relations exposure!
    Work with your public relations experts nationwide to achieve the success that Alicia and the Alabamaians have today!
    The more positive stories we can create locally, statewide, regionally, nationally and internationally, the more we can create a better understanding of how fantastic our industry and associations are to enhance and drive retention and recruitment and more participation and appreciation!
    Put together a public relations campaign today including a “Buy Now Campaign!”
    ONwards and UPwards!

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