Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Offer Workforce Training

For Gyniece Hill, construction is in her blood.

His grandfather worked as a carpenter and the craft continued into his hobby, which gave birth to Hill, an 18-year-old who had just graduated from the Phillip O’Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte.

Halfway through high school, Hill took advantage of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Workforce Preparation Program. The strategy puts her in full-time work just two months after high school and helps anchor a trade that is expected to grow 7% over the next nine years.

“The best part is the knowledge and hands-on training that I get for free,” said Hill, who works for Messer Construction. She is currently on site for a project in South Park. “I get on-the-job training and mentors who care about me and my growth. “

CLT_Apprenticeship_pipeline (2)
Gyniece Hill, center, adds a nail to a stud at the Messer Sharon Towers Project construction site in Charlotte on October 19, 2021. Hill took a program out of high school called ROC, or Rebuilding Opportunities in Construction. “Gaining knowledge about building was a great opportunity,” said Hill, adding that when she was younger she would help her grandfather with home improvement projects. Joshua Komer

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 167,800 worker and construction helper positions are planned each year, on average, over the next decade. The openings, according to the office, are the result of the need to replace workers who are transferred to different occupations or who leave the labor market.

Chris Malinowski, vice president of operations at Messer who helps oversee construction operations in the Charlotte area, said programs like CMS’s are a gold mine for companies struggling to find candidates qualified to fill positions. The construction industry, Malinowki said, is still feeling the impacts of the recession of 2007 and 2010, when workers left the industry and never returned.

Aging and retiring workers, immigration limits, demands for better wages and more flexible working conditions have also led to widespread labor shortages in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States, the number and rate of vacancies were 10.4 million and 6.6,% respectively. Increased employment opportunities in health care and social assistance; state and local government; and wholesale.

“Our industry is also blessed with a workforce with many of its most skilled workers nearing retirement, so this labor shortage is not something that will improve,” did he declare.

“I think the businesses that will grow and prosper are those that partner with their local school districts to help create a pathway to employment for graduate students who may not be looking to go to school. ‘university.”

Vocational training in high school

The district’s push for workplace learning was established decades ago and its primary source of funding comes from a federal grant. But Susan Gann-Carroll, director of vocational and technical education at CMS, said the focus and intent of the program has changed over the years.

From now on, professional careers, internships and partnerships with companies are in the spotlight.

“We serve just over 54,000 CMS students,” Gann-Carroll said. “We are in all the colleges and all the high schools, with the exception of some colleges. Our programs are designed for multiple entry points, whether it’s direct entry to work, a two- or four-year degree.

CMS has several partners both in the private sector and in the community, including Bank of America, Lowe’s, Atrium, Novant, Siemens, Charlotte Works and Charlotte Business Alliance. Career paths span the gamut from business management and financial planning to automotive, manufacturing, law enforcement and protection and cosmetology.

“I chose construction because I’m not a lazy person… I’m always going to move,” said Judge Taylor, who is in his second year at Messer after graduating from West Mecklenburg High School. . “I only saw benefits. The program taught me things that I never would have imagined.

Messer employs six CMS graduates.

Gyniece Hill talks about the learning program and the knowledge that has been provided through the ROC program. Joshua Komer

Taylor and Hill have both been introduced to Messer through Rebuilding Opportunities in Construction, or ROC, another district partner and Charlotte initiative that helps train high school students for construction trades.

“The best thing about this program is that it allows us to invest in the future of these graduates,” said Malinowski. “Let’s face it, we live in a competitive world and ROC students are one step ahead of their peers. Now they not only receive education, but also practical training. When students graduate, they have the confidence and the drive to jump right into the job market. “

Opportunities to move forward

Hill’s workplace learning didn’t stop with graduation. She’s enrolled in Meser’s apprenticeship program, as is Taylor.

As trainees, they were exposed and trained on the operation of power tools / hand tools, blueprint reading, concrete forming and finishing, basic carpentry work, general laboring work, installation of doors, frames and hardware, selective demolition, among others.

Messer first connected to CMS students through the Young Mayors Employment Program in 2017. Former student Manuela Sanchez interned at Messer for several years before pursuing studies in biology and science. get a full scholarship at Wingate University.

“I enjoyed my time there and gained knowledge on a wide variety of topics that helped me become a well-rounded person,” Sanchez said.

Malinowski added, “Our goal is not only to provide employment, but we are also focused on developing a path to a career. “

Hill is happy that she is following in her grandfather’s footsteps.

“I will be a journeyman carpenter when I finish the program in 2024,” she said of the apprenticeship program.

“(The program) helped prepare me for the opportunity to have a career, earn a salary and benefits. The apprenticeship program will continue to teach me more and allow me to grow in my career.

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