Construction Education Builds Norman Construction Workforce

HBW subscribers know there are more jobs for skilled construction workers in Oklahoma than can be found in most other states. The strong local economies of Tulsa and Oklahoma City have led to a steadily increasing construction boom. The only real problem is that the local workforce isn’t big enough to meet the demand. Fortunately, as Anna Trowbridge of the Oklahoman reports, the Moore Norman Technology Center has stepped up to the plate to build the area’s workforce of skilled building professionals.

According to carpentry instructor Mark Estell, their construction technology program receives dozens of calls per month seeking students skilled in the carpentry trades to fill positions on local crews. The enter can’t seem to graduate students fast enough to meet demand. Wages are good for carpentry and construction professionals in Oklahoma, but Estell says, “I can’t put them out fast enough. It’s the same with other construction trades instructors in CareerTech. There are more jobs than we can put out highly trained and qualified graduates.” Center graduates find jobs almost immediately and have strong prospects for advancement and promotion in the industry.

The gap between available construction work and the number of skilled professionals to fill those positions is continually widening. A Forbes reported last year, “53% of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were 45 years and older…and 18.6 percent were between the ages of 55 and 64.” Much of the current labor pool is nearing retirement, and there aren’t enough people entering the industry to replace them.

The Center’s carpentry students get experience constructing a home from foundation to finishing, while earning both the OSHA 10 card and the General Induction Card (The Blue Card) during their program, all of which makes them very desirable to construction groups. Students learn about reading blueprints, framing and cabinetry, and how to work as a team member., both of which translate to $3-$5 per hour increase in starting pay. Program completion makes students eligible to be considered an apprentice carpenter.

To learn more about the Moore Norman Career Technology Center, go to www.mntc.edu or call 364-5763, ext. 7260.

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