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WIth labor shortage hovering, area builders jump into training programs

With more training opportunities available, trade companies will soon, officials hope, have a flourishing labor pool.

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  • | 5:14 p.m. November 3, 2022
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The four program trainees chosen for the BCB Homes Career Pathway Program. (Courtesy Photo).
The four program trainees chosen for the BCB Homes Career Pathway Program. (Courtesy Photo).
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Construction training program are growing in the region because demand is high — a direct response to labor shortages. In many examples, these programs are being used as a way to curate an employee specifically for the company that sets up the program. 

How big is the demand? On a national level, the Associated Builders and Contractors reported the industry was in need of 650,000 additional workers in 2022. That was on top of the normal hiring pace. 

Some examples of construction training program in the region include:

• Riverview High School in Sarasota. The school's new four-year Construction Technology Program opened in August and filled up with 60 students in two days, with another 60 students added to a waitlist.

The program is designed for students who want to go right into work after graduating high school. “This will be a pathway to a good career for those students,” says Mary Dougherty, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. 

The RHS program will provide hands-on experience backed up by a curriculum provided by the National Center for Construction Education and Research designed to meet industry standards. 

That way when students graduate, they have industry recognized credentials. In addition, program officials hope GCBX members will continue to stay involved, by providing mentorship, speaking to classes and eventually hiring the students that come out of this program.

• CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce workforce development program. Running from March to May, CareerEdge launched this construction skills training program in the Newtown community of Sarasota. It used $100,000 in funding provided by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to train roughly 40 Sarasota city and county residents. After completing the 80-hour course, those residents were considered for job opportunities by local subcontractors working on Selby Gardens’ Master Plan project.

• Career Pathway Program by BCB Homes. The program starts with six weeks of learning estate management so trainees know how to maintain a property. Then there's 16 weeks of field operations and building sciences, 15 weeks of pre-construction and estimating and 15 weeks of project management.  

The genesis of the program, says Jon Bremseth, BCB Homes’ director of education and training, is centered around one notion: “How do we make a more educated, versatile employee?”

The company had its first group in June. Another class will start in January. 

It’s open to current employees, but Bremseth has also been attending career fairs at universities across the state to entice students to apply. The company received 12 applications for the first group, before selecting four for the program. Of those, two were current employees, one was a recent graduate and the fourth was completing a degree online. The first group was very much a “lets dip our toes in the water” experience, Bremseth says. The trainees are paid during the program, including benefits and retirement. 

“I think everyone is buying into the program and how it will benefit BCB Homes,” Bremseth says. “It requires complete buy-in from people in multiple positions and levels.” 

The program didn’t come without its share of challenges. The biggest one is making sure trainees are learning what BCB Homes need them to learn. But the unexpected was a challenge too, so Bremseth says they’ve had to learn to be flexible. “We didn’t plan a hurricane,” he says. 

• Robins & Morton, a Birmingham, Alabama-based construction company with an office in Tampa. The firm, according to a statement, created a new construction engineer career track that, like its construction coordinator role, will be specifically for U.S. military veterans.

The construction engineer position, the release states, places newly hired veterans above entry-level employees, but also provides them with development opportunities to gain construction-specific knowledge and experience. It’s open to veterans with at least eight years of service time in the armed forces, while the construction coordinator career track accepts veterans who served for less than eight years.





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