Labor shortages are top of mind for the building industry and NAHB members are committed to addressing the issue. Scott Wentz, executive partner with True Homes, based in Charlotte, N.C., noticed a gap between the job opportunities within home building industry and the employment needs of the community.
In addition to his commitment to workforce development through the True Homes Foundation, Wentz spearheaded the creation of the Builders Bridge Foundation, a non-profit committed to trade education and on-the-job training for students.
Builders can and should play a role in workforce development, says Wentz. “We have to do our part…everyone can have an influence,” said Wentz during the Workforce Development Champions Forum panel discussion at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas last month.
Builders Bridge works with dozens of trade and community partners on each of its programs. For example, its internship program connects high school students with local trade companies that can lead to full-time employment. The program launched last year with more than 20 high school students participating.
Students genuinely appreciated the on-the-job training and felt a sense of accomplishment. “I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people that I’m with and what I learned and the experience…it’s been a great summer,” said participant Daneil Fiordalisi. Wentz says similar programs will launch in Raleigh and Greensboro, N.C. this year.
In addition to the internship program, Builders Bridge has hosted several “immersion events.” Local schools are invited to bring students to a job site to learn about different trades, such as framing, electrical and plumbing, and includes several hands-on activities. More than 300 students have attended Builders Bridge immersion events.
The non-profit also wants to reach students online through video. The organization has partnered with Purdue University to create an “Introduction to the Home Building Industry” YouTube video to boost awareness of the rewarding career paths in the trades targeted to middle and high school students. Builders Bridge hopes the video will also be shown in schools across the country.
To learn more about how the home building industry and students are working together in North Carolina view the Builders Bridge video.