How The Goodwill Construction Skills Training Center Is Impacting The Talent Pool In The Construction Industry

With the ongoing labor shortage that is affecting the construction industry, it’s crucial that resources are made available to not only increase awareness about the plethora of job opportunities but also to give prospective professionals the tools and training to be successful. Meet The Goodwill Construction Skills Training Center – a state-of-the-art trade training facility where courses are offered in specialized areas like construction, HVAC, blueprint reading and more. The training center serves both high school students and adults, providing access to the skills necessary to launch a successful career in construction - at no cost to them. We got the chance to chat with Marvin Kelley, Director of Construction and Trade Training, to learn more about the program and recap BuildingPoint SouthEast’s involvement with them.

The training center originally hosted basic construction classes during the day until they built the new Goodwill Construction Skills Training Center in 2019. $1.5 million was spent on redesigning the retail operations center into a trade school. Now, they offer night classes, giving people the opportunity to work during the day and increase their skills in the evening. Over the past few years, they’ve offered courses such as “Construction Basics,” which is an 8-week course that allows you to receive certifications like the OSHA-10 and the NCCER Core (National Center For Construction Education and Research). The course teaches skills such as construction math, the use of power tools, hand tools and worksite etiquette.

Marvin took over the program back in Summer 2019, and found out that the Construction Basics course wasn't sufficient for participants to truly launch careers in the industry. After receiving additional grant funding, Goodwill was able to rework the program to help get more talent into the marketplace. New skills-based training courses were added, along with screening tools and opportunities to educate students about the industry. The changes enabled Goodwill to launch a new, industry-focused approach to the construction training in its newly constructed facility. The program now meets two unique needs - providing in-demand skills to help people access promising careers in construction, and providing a pipeline of motivated talent to the construction industry. 

BuildingPoint SouthEast connected with the program through our sister company, Duncan-Parnell who had partnered with Goodwill for their Women in Construction event. Ryan Pastor, BuildingPoint’s Mixed Reality and VDC Specialist presented a mixed reality segment which blew many away – including Marvin. He expressed, “I thought it was the coolest thing. I still show people videos from that night ‘til this day!” Post-event, Marvin and team discussed BuildingPoint becoming more involved in the program to make an even bigger impact on their students. They are always looking for ways to position graduates as impressive to employers compared to people who are getting 4-year degrees. Although some of the Goodwill students have their degree, not all of them do, so any time they can get the students on a job site, connected with other organizations or access to employers that are willing to come in the classroom, the better. Marvin explained, “This gives our students the opportunity to see the day in the life of a construction worker, what the latest technology is and what it takes to be successful in the industry. Those are the things we try to integrate into the classroom, so our students become more well-rounded because even a lot of college students don’t have hands-on experience; it gives our students more familiarity.”

Ryan Pastor adds, “What I love about this program is that with the labor shortage in the industry, everyone knows it’s a problem but not many are taking action in it. It’s refreshing to see that you’re putting your money where your mouth is, providing the necessary resources and working to solve that problem. The whole industry thanks you because without resources like Goodwill, it’s still just going to be a problem looking into the future which is why it’s important that people know who you are and what you all do.”

Marvin responds, “…and it’s great to have you guys [BuildingPoint SouthEast] as a resource as well because when they’re able to bounce ideas off you guys, it gives them a different perspective. Initially a lot of our students think that construction is just hammering a nail but we show videos and examples of different aspects to let folks know that there are more job opportunities in construction than they think. However, it’s important for them to hear it from those in the industry who may have similar experiences.”

They also implemented Mentor Mondays or what Marvin likes to call “Keepin’ it Real.” This gives the students an opportunity to understand what it really is going to take to succeed in the industry. Questions such as: What does the career ladder look like? How many years does it take to progress? Are they really going to hire a female or minority? This program allows for a safe space that provokes open and honest conversation about what they need to prepare for, what potential hurdles they might have and how to overcome them.

We are looking forward to participating more with the Goodwill Construction Skills Training Center soon to help continue fill the knowledge gap about construction technology.

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