When COVID-19 forced millions of Americans into stay-at-home mode this spring, organizations had to adapt and find new ways to pursue their mission. For the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), one creative approach was to help create virtual training tools and certification programs for teachers across the state.
Online education included the OSHA 10-Hour safety training program, Ladder Safety and NCCERConnect (with Pearson), all offered at no cost. Students also had the opportunity to learn about construction careers via online virtual tours of construction jobs and/or sites.
“The OSHA-10 credential [provided by CEFGA] is more impactful because of the industry recognition behind [it],” said Dennis Wilson, a construction teacher at Gilmer County High School. “The big win is that my students will come out of this school year with a credential that will help them make more money with employers.”
Another of CEFGA’s new digital initiatives is helping educate students on career options and working to place them directly into jobs at leading construction companies. High school students interested in construction careers are invited to request an application via text message; a CEFGA team member then follows up with information on advanced training, apprenticeships and even job placement.
CEFGA also offers a free five-hour Employability Training course, which trains students on resume building, interviewing strategies and other professional skills.
These recent CEFGA efforts were made possible in part by a new partnership between The Home Depot Foundation, The Marcus Foundation and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The three organizations came together earlier this year to seed a $5.7 million, three-year grant to address the need for skilled workers in the construction trades.
The grant gives a significant boost to CEFGA’s K12 Pipeline, which works to address two significant socio-economic challenges in Georgia: 1) The need to reduce the growing and dramatic workforce shortages in the construction industry; and 2) The need to create more and stronger career pathways for the state’s young people that enable them to have self-sustainable and fulfilling lives.
The grant is expected to help CEFGA:
• Expand the number of elementary and middle school construction programs from nine to at least 20 across the state
• Expand the number of industry-certified high school construction programs in Georgia from 42 to more than 80
• Expose more than 21,000 students to careers in construction
• Provide training and industry credentials to more than 17,500 students
• Place at least 3,500 students into work-based learning and full-time employment opportunities in the construction industry.
“We are grateful to these industry leaders for addressing the very real problem of the workforce skills gap facing the construction industry,” said Scott Shelar, President and CEO of CEFGA. “This watershed funding effort will make a significant impact on students across the state, while simultaneously helping industry partners see tangible results as more skilled professionals join the workforce.”
“CEFGA’s new education model is changing the game for how students in Georgia learn about and pursue a career in the trades,” said Craig Menear, Chairman, CEO and President of The Home Depot. “As the skilled labor gap continues to widen, we’re proud to support CEFGA and partner with The Marcus and Blank Foundations to train future generations of tradesmen and women.”
Bernie Marcus, The Home Depot co-founder and Chairman of The Marcus Foundation added, “I’ve been concerned for a number of years that students have been told that if they don’t get a college education they can’t succeed. It’s not true. Our country has grown and prospered because of electricians, plumbers and all kinds of construction workers in every generation. Having a skill in a trade today can lead to a great job, no college debt and the ability to provide for a family.”
Arthur Blank, The Home Depot co-founder and Chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, said: “We believe in the power of workforce development programs to provide living wage jobs and long-term economic mobility. CEFGA is a trusted partner in our Family Foundation’s workforce development on the Westside of Atlanta. We look forward to working together to provide additional meaningful opportunities for students across Georgia.”
Learn more about CEFGA at cefga.org.