New CFCC Institute Aims To Fill Construction Workforce Needs

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Apr 4, 2018
Cape Fear Community College will run a two-week intensive-training institute this summer to help fulfill the entry-level workforce needs of the construction industry.

Working in partnership with members of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association (WCFHBA) and other industry leaders, CFCC has developed a detailed curriculum to help provide specific skills, and training for entry-level employees, according to Cameron Moore, executive officer of WCFHBA.

Called the Construction Institute, the college will provide students with basic skills for the industry through four different courses in the fields of masonry, carpentry, plumbing and heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC), said Josh Davis, customized training and workforce development director at CFCC.

The cost to students for the institute is $185.

The idea for the institute was developed with input from the construction community, Davis said, adding that there is a huge need expressed from builders locally and subcontractors for an entry-level workforce. 

While the college offers two-year programs for the industry, the two-week Construction Institute can get someone trained quickly, affording individuals the opportunity to get hired sooner and save up to further their education if they desire, Davis said.

"The idea is, this is what we could take care of right now. This is true workforce development. Let's get some entry level folks in there. Let's get them working through the summer ... ," Davis said.

Moore said the program will create a significant amount of opportunity for both students and future employers, as students coming out of the program will learn basic skill sets that "can be leveraged as soon as the two-week period is up."

“There’s a lot of demand in the construction sector and CFCC has done a tremendous job with their one- and two-year vocational programs. We will always continue to support those," Moore said. "And then when you add in these two-week intensive training sessions -- well that really complements what our industry needs short term and long term."

For every residential home that is constructed, there are more than 22 trades that have a hand in the final product, Moore said. And while the in overall state of the real estate industry, construction is booming again, construction trades are "still lagging behind," he said. 

"As you can imagine … the recession took a big hit on all of our trades; and we have yet to really recover from that,” Moore said.

According to Moore, the National Association of Home Builders estimates that 10,000 workers are needed statewide every year in residential construction. 

"The trend for Wilmington is a need to add about 400 a year," he said.

According to Dave Spetrino, founder of PBC Design + Build and 2018 president of WCFHBA, some of the key challenges for the industry are hiring "competent labor with a basic understanding of how to manage themselves on a construction site," he said. 

"The willingness of a prospective employee to invest in themselves and learn the very basics allow a potential business owner to hire with confidence," he said.

Courses in the Construction Institute will include entry-level skills such as safety, measurement, construction math, drafting work, Davis said. The courses will also instruct students on how to use power and hand tools.

Students in the course will receive hands-on training and get real-world experience in their respective fields of study.  At the end of their courses, students will recieve a certificate from the college, Davis said. 

Spetrino added that the course "allows a student to commit their time without fear of it being wasted should the intended skillset end up not being a good fit."

It also allows a student to "insert themselves into the workforce (and an income stream) as efficiently as possible. The ‘fastest path to cash’ is a huge motivator for someone who seeks the start of a career and one that is also going to pay more than minimum wage in the process," he said.

The average North Carolina salary for the four trades combined is roughly about $45,000 a year, Moore said. 

While the skills provided through the course do not make students experts in the field, they "certainly provide an incredible basis for which someone to build a career or even their own business," Spetrino said.

A two-week course for each of the four different trades will run concurrently June 18-29, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Each course will be taught by skilled instructors, with experience in the various fields. 

"I can't say enough about my instructors. The ones that I've hired so far are ... experts in their field. They are an award-winning mason, 35 year-experienced plumber who's still in the field ... it's just the quality of the instructors is so high," Davis said. 

"It's an awesome opportunity for anybody who wants to take it -- [the] unemployed, underemployed, fresh coming out of high school -- whoever wants to take it," Davis said of the course. 

No prerequisites are required to register, he said.

"If you want to learn a little bit more about the trade, if you want to get a leg up as far as getting a little bit closer to an interview, come take the course," Davis said. "It will be a great opportunity. It will be money well spent."
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