New Construction

Tenn. District Considering Trade School for High-School Students

At the Hamilton County School Board meeting last week in Chattanooga, Tenn., the board donated an out-of-use school building for potential use as a partial-day construction school for high-school students. Board members said that the trade school could prove useful for both high-school students and adults interested in learning the relevant skills.

“There is hard work, but it’s rewarding,” said Nic Cornelison, Chairman of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of East Tennessee. “We want to teach folks to work with their hands.”

Cornelison said the program would be geared toward high-school juniors and seniors and teach them the “building blocks” of the industry. “It’s not every day that you just get to show up and build stuff, you get to see what you’ve accomplished at the end of every day,” he said.

Hamilton County Schools officials call the potential construction workforce center a “massive, nonprofit, collaborative effort” throughout the district and with other organizations like AGC and Chattanooga State Community College.

According to Cornelison, the construction industry is actively looking to strengthen its workforce. He said the average construction worker is 49 years old, and that for every five workers who leave the job or retire, only one gets replaced. He said the biggest hurdle to hiring is getting people interested in the position.

“Eventually, you can become your own boss and start your own company,” said Assistant Superintendent Foreman Slade McGuire. “There is such a need from an expiring, older generation for new people to come in with a passion for it.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].