Tidewater Community College’s Educational Foundation is the recipient of a $5,000 gift from Builders & Contractors Exchange that will fund scholarships at the new Skilled Trades Academy in Portsmouth.
The member-based organization that supports the regional construction industry wants to attract more candidates into the trades to address the critical workforce shortage in Hampton Roads, which anticipates 68 percent more job openings in skilled trades over the next five years than workers trained to fill them.
TCC’s Skilled Trades Academy offers a wide range of high-demand skilled trades training in marine coating, pipefitting, pipe laying, welding, framing, electrical, HVAC, roofing and sheet metal. In many cases, training can be completed in six weeks for workers who find immediate employment.
Paul Haveles, executive director of Norfolk-based Builders and Contractors Exchange, is hopeful that the scholarship money will pay off for his membership of 573, all commercial construction companies looking to sustain and grow their businesses and develop their employees.
“Investing in scholarships is something tangible that we can give back to our members to help their businesses grow,” Haveles said.
Previously, Builders and Contractors Exchange had only funded scholarships at four-year institutions. “We don’t always get an immediate payback. Partnering with TCC allows us to get those workers into the pipeline more quickly to benefit our members.”
Nationwide, 31 million skilled trade jobs will be vacated by baby boomers by 2020.
“We’re out in front of that initiative as evidenced by this building and its purpose,” Corey McCray, vice president for Workforce Solutions at TCC, said while standing in the 20,000 square-foot space at 3303 Airline Blvd. “We’re here because of industry partners who told us this is what they need. The shortage is just starting to be recognized nationally, but right here at TCC, we’re already on it.”
Mary Thompson, president of the Board of Directors for Builders and Contractors Exchange and vice president of Superior Marble & Stone, Inc., said encouraging young people to consider construction jobs must be a priority.
“As an employer, we have a hard time finding employees who can read a tape measure let alone trying to find a stone mason,” she said. “We need to educate young people about employment opportunities in the construction industry and encourage them to pursue careers in skilled trades.”