The shortage of construction trades workers nationwide is measured in “big numbers,” says George Hess, founder of Colorado Springs-based Vantage Homes and chairman of Careers in Construction Colorado, a workforce development program created by the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs.
The industry needs about 400,000 skilled trades workers across the nation, he said, because of an aging workforce and market demand that exceeds supply.
A new Trades Building next to Patriot High School will help fill local needs, Hess said.
“The school didn’t have a facility that provided adequate space for quality learning,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it, for the kids.”
The large garagelike structure opened last month to students throughout School District 49.
“The main excitement of getting this building is for more students to participate in construction education and expand the trades to include electric, HVAC and anything else needed to create a home or building,” said D-49 spokesman David Nancarrow.
The Trades Building, at 11990 Swingline Road in Peyton, will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening at 2 p.m. Thursday.
A $500,000 donation from the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms organization helped fund the 4,200-square-foot building, which has classrooms and a hands-on learning lab for the HBA’s Careers in Construction program.
The HBA developed the curriculum five years ago and with a partnership with Associated General Contractors now offers it in more than 20 schools in the Pikes Peak region and into Denver. The curriculum trains students interested in pursuing a career in the construction field and leads to Department of Labor certification in general construction or electrical, plumbing and carpentry.
The Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms, a nonprofit organization of industry representatives, who for 15 years have raised more than $10 million money to help fund capital construction projects in D-49, has a “vested interest” in the Falcon community, said Sarah Jack of the organization.
“This is something that will ultimately benefit everybody,” she said. “We have a core belief that everybody’s going to go to college, and there’s a need for skilled employees, so it’s a double-edged thing for us to contribute.”
Home builders voluntarily donate $1,500 for every new home they build in D-49 boundaries, Hess said.
Patriot High School, an alternative high school that combines online and classroom instruction, has offered the Careers in Construction program for four years, but now it will grow.
Students enrolled in Construction 1, Construction 2 and Woods classes will build sheds, outdoor classrooms, gaga ball pits and other projects commissioned by other schools or people in the community, according to Nancarrow. They also can build a modular home, Hess said.
Students have to wire and drywall small rooms to demonstrate proficiency and mastery of those skills, too.
“This building will enhance our ability to provide as many opportunities for students to choose their pathway to success,” Nancarrow said.
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