Academy to open this fall
Come September, the construction industry will have another avenue for recruiting and hiring the skilled craftspeople of tomorrow. That’s when ABC Greater Baltimore’s new trade school will open its doors to the next generation.
Talks about ABC forming its own trade school began about four years ago. “The impetus of the new trade school really was to help create or rebuild the pipeline into the industry,” says Chris Hadfield, ABC’s director of education.
Hadfield says he noticed the need whenever he’d speak at local high schools to promote the construction trades and ABC’s apprenticeship programs. “I would gain interest and get kids excited. Then I would offer them an application, and they’d fill it out, and ask ‘When do I start?’ I had to re-explain that they needed a job first. And that part was always frustrating, for the both of us,” says Hadfield.
The trade school, called the Construction Education Academy, is a partnership between ABC Greater Baltimore and the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), which will provide accreditation for the program.
The trade school fills in a missing gap in ABC’s educational offerings, targeting post high school students and young adults, though it’s open to anyone with an interest in construction. “Most of training that we currently do is for people who already have jobs. The trade school is designed to give the skills to those who don’t have jobs,” says Hadfield.
It also fills a missing gap in the local public school system. Only four high schools in Greater Baltimore have Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs that would provide students exposure to the construction trades. And that’s only if you’re lucky enough to live in that school’s district, says Hadfield.
Unlike lengthy and cost-prohibitive alternatives run by for-profit companies, ABC’s trade school gives new high school graduates an affordable option to get the training they need to kickstart their entry into a career in construction. Through CCBC, students will have the opportunity to apply for financial aid to attend the trade school. Scholarships will also be made available through Central Scholarship, a Maryland-based non-profit.
The first 150 hours of the school’s 300-hour program consists of an introduction to the industry. The next 150 hours will be trade-specific, with students choosing a trade pathway to focus on from among mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and carpentry.
Trade school classes, which will run from September to March, will take place at ABC’s new training center, taking full advantage of the new state-of-the-art training facility.
The trade school program will use the same curriculum that ABC uses for its apprenticeship program, another big leg up for students. “We’ll be able to give trade school graduates credit for their first year of apprenticeship. So now they can enter their second year of apprenticeship once they get hired,” says Hadfield.
Speaking of hiring, CCBC will also provide students with its full array of career counseling services. And, of course, ABC Greater Baltimore already has a built-in network of member companies looking for skilled craftspeople.
“This school will help identify men and women who show a real passion to be in this industry and make them a talented hire for our company,” says Frank Murphy, president and COO of TEI Electrical in Frederick, Maryland. “ABC is taking the steps to attract men and women to a school that will prepare them for the construction industry. As a member of ABC, you will have a steady stream of future construction trades personnel flowing through the doors at CEA. This is a game changer!!”