Construction employment is up, and the unemployment rate is dropping. Even with these positive numbers, the construction industry is facing a threat of worker shortage due to the lack of skilled laborers entering the industry. Windsong Properties and the Roswell High School Construction Technology Program want to bridge the skills gap. To accomplish this, help do so, the active adult home builder recently gave students a tour of Heron Pond and shared industry knowledge.
“We may have a shortage, but we also have an opportunity,” explained Zach Fields, teacher and founder of Roswell High’s construction program. “Our young people learning these trades can excel in them, and we can close that gap. Our students are building, and we are doing it every day. We are moving forward and preparing the next generation of American workers.”
Mike Shina, construction manager for Windsong Properties, greeted the group and took them by a variety of homes at the community, ranging from slab to frame to pre-drywall to finished products. Students were exposed to the considerations given to site grading, storm runoff, building materials and foundations systems. Additionally, they learned more about universal design – a principle crucial to Windsong’s homes, built for those aged 50-plus with no-step entries, wider doors and hallways, lever handles and low maintenance materials.
According to Fields, the highlight of the trip was watching the interest of students peak as they toured homes in multiple phases of construction. “The students were blown away by the model home and even wanted to get their parents to move to Heron Pond! Mike did a great job connecting with the students and explaining how a development such as Heron Pond comes together,” said Fields.
Roswell High’s construction program started in 2013. Students are enrolled in a workforce development program created by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Students maintain a strong focus on construction safety, even earning the OSHA 10 Hour Construction Safety and Health certification within the first few weeks in the course. They build skills with hand and power tools through a project based approach and are heavily involved in the design and material estimation phases of project planning. Students also learn how to read basic construction drawings; the basics of carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical and HVAC; and even focus a full year in one trade area with the option to work in the field directly for class credit.
“It was great to meet our future construction leaders!” exclaimed Shina. “Zach’s program provides a valuable experience to students that are planning on being engineers and project managers. It was an honor to be a part of their journey, and I hope they walked away with a better insight into the field that has had a major impact on my life.”
Trips like this go a long way in getting students interested in construction and positively affect the decisions of school administrators to expand these programs. Fields hopes that the county will agree on opening age appropriate programs at Elkins Pointe Middle School and Roswell North Elementary School next year. After the expansion, Windsong Properties will be on hand to help these students discover the myriad of possibilities of the construction industry.