6-16-2021 – New Construction pre-apprenticeship comes to CCC&TI

Posted on: June 17th, 2021 by admin


June 16, 2021



By Carmen Boone cboone@newstopicnews.com

Jun 17, 2021 Updated Jun 17, 2021


Jackson Brinkley, 16, a rising junior at South Caldwell High School, is building relationships with possible employers for his future after high school.


He is working with SteelCon Builders, a construction company, through a new program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute for high school juniors and seniors to get on-the-job training while learning about construction-related careers.


“It’s helping develop my future,” he said.


The program, Trade Up, began on the Watauga County campus last year and started June 7 on the Caldwell County campus, said Dr. Mark Barber, associate dean and vocational and technical studies director at the college.


The pre-apprenticeship allows students to connect with local businesses that handle general construction, carpentry, electrical work and heating and air, among other areas of work.


Students must complete 46 hours of work in the classroom before they are sent to job sites. Once they are connected with local contractors, students get 136-192 hours of on-the-job training, said Justin Harris, director of energy and construction trades at the college.


There is a severe labor shortage in construction right now, and it is hard to find skilled workers, Barber said. The hope is that the program can show high school students the opportunities posed by careers in construction.


“They get visuals and can observe what it’s really like,” he said.


Companies offering experience to students include Triplett’s Plumbing, Brushy Mountain Builders, Hibriten Construction, Premier Electric & Lighting and SteelCon Builders.


Students are paid for the work they do on job sites, Barber said. Once the class ends in August, those students have the opportunity to go straight into full-time employment.


Brinkley and Davidson Allen, also 16 and a junior at South Caldwell, are working with SteelCon Builders, which is working at Associated Hardwoods to lay the foundation and build walls for a new building in which to dry more lumber. Allen said it gives him a head start on his career.


“I like that I can make money while I’m learning,” Allen said.


Allen and Brinkley both said they will pursue a job in construction after high school because of what they have learned and how much they like the experience they are receiving.


Introducing younger workers into the construction business is what makes this program important, project manager David Gray said.


“They are eager to learn and willing to do the work,” he said. “With the aging workforce we have, it is hard to find workers right now. We need younger people willing to do the job, and those two certainly are.”


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