NCCCS President Peter Hans said said all 58 of North Carolina’s community colleges are educating future carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders, HVAC technicians, and other skilled tradespeople.
The partnership between the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) and Carolinas AGC (CAGC) is helping address the workforce shortage at a time when there are thousands of well-paying careers available in construction, the NCCCS president said.
"There are great jobs and meaningful careers in the construction industry," said NCCCS President Peter Hans. "The partnership with CAGC is another example of how we work with business and industry to address their needs. By aligning with our partners, we are meeting challenges, providing opportunities for North Carolinians, and making a difference for our state."
Hans' comments were made to about 75 attendees at a CAGC quarterly Triangle luncheon in Durham March 13. He said $200,000 that CAGC helped secure from the NC General Assembly in 2017 is being used by the NCCCS to help rebrand construction as a good career choice. He said misperceptions exist about the industry, coupled with a decades-long emphasis on earning four-year degrees that have had an adverse impact on construction companies' ability to recruit workers.
"North Carolina's construction industry is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers to fill crucial positions," he said. "Craftsmanship is a calling — we must value those who build our community."
Hans said all 58 of North Carolina's community colleges are educating future carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders, HVAC technicians, and other skilled tradespeople. He commended North Carolina lawmakers for recognizing that the construction worker shortage could have a negative impact on public projects, such as roads and infrastructure, and for appropriating the $200,000 to the N.C. Community College System to raise awareness of construction as a rewarding and well-paying career. Other points he made included:
- The NCCCS-CAGC effort is developing promotional materials that colleges and companies can use to undo myths about construction careers (and redesigning CAGC's Build Your Career website).
- He said he is particularly excited about Durham Tech's construction summer camp last year. The camp introduced a diverse group of high school students to a variety of construction trades through hands-on learning activities and demonstrations.
- Systemwide in 2017-18, enrollment in construction-related curriculum programs at NC community colleges totaled 11,265 (15 different programs). Additionally, in 2018, there were 14,621 registrations in short-term training programs in construction trades (30 different programs).
- Construction apprenticeships grew from 1,581 in 2018 to 1,840 this year.
"We want to see those numbers go up," Hans said. "Increased participation in these programs [please continue to recruit by visiting career fairs & schools as ambassadors] will be good for your industry and good for our colleges. Early career exploration is critical."