I would like to take the opportunity to bring you up to date on some good news in the community (I think we can all use a little good news!). Riverview High School will launch a Construction Technology Program in August at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
This will ultimately be a four-year program to introduce students to careers in the construction industry. The program is full (at 60 students) and includes a waitlist (60 more at last check). Workforce issues have been plaguing the local construction industry for many years, resulting in pricing increases and delays. According to professionals working with students, two-thirds of high school graduates don’t have a plan upon graduation. So, developing programs within the schools to provide industry-specific training was identified as a solution to meet the needs of the students and needs of the community. These students will graduate with marketable skills and experience to launch their careers, work their way through college, attend a Construction Technology Program at a university and/or utilize this experience as a life skill.
As described by the school, Riverview will be the first high school to start its own Construction Technology program, utilizing hands-on experiences in the construction and trades industry alongside NCCER (National Center for Construction Education & Research) curriculum to meet industry standards. Students will come out of the program with these industry recognized credentials, but the emphasis will be on students getting meaningful internships, apprenticeships, and jobs here locally. The teacher launching the program has already been through the program as a student and currently teaches night classes at Suncoast Technical College and we could not be more excited to bring him on board at Riverview for the Construction Technology Program! The new project involves converting a commercial art lab into a functioning shop while providing students with tools relevant to the industry standards.
Converting the art lab into a functioning shop is no small or inexpensive task, but members of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange (GCBX) have already agreed to donate/in-kind 75% of the costs associated with the project. Additionally, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, in collaboration with the outstanding staff and leadership at the school district, are reaching out to the community for donations of tools and other consumables. The response has been tremendous!
Additionally, while the program is ongoing, GCBX members will support the classroom activities by coming in to speak to classes, provide internship and apprenticeship opportunities and be first in line to hire the graduates upon completion of the program!
So, while we are working hard to get this project completed by the opening of school in August, there is even more good news! Our friends and colleagues at the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce are working with Venice High School to develop a Construction Trades Academy at VHS!
These programs will prepare high school graduates for the future, provide them with opportunities for careers here at home and strengthen the local economy. Programs such as these rely on support from the industry, but also support from the community.
If you would like to know how you can help or get more information, please contact GCBX at 941-907-7745 or the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce at 941-488-2236.
Mary Dougherty is executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.