Six local men are on their way to rewarding careers in the construction industry after completing an intensive, five-week training program held this summer on Brookdale’s Lincroft campus.
The program, titled Construction Basics and Building Technology, was the first such course offered by Brookdale’s new Accelerated Career and Technical (ACT) Institute, which provides local students with practical career training, job certification, and the ability to turn professional experience into a college degree.
From late July through August, the students worked with instructors Shawn and Dennis O’Neill to learn the ins and outs of the construction trade, from measuring and blueprint reading to tool handling and carpentry.
The students then applied those skills by crafting a scaled building in the Auto Tech facility. Following construction of a frame, the class worked in teams to install flooring, roofing, siding, a window and a door to the structure throughout the summer. The finished unit, unveiled at the conclusion of program, will be donated to Coastal Habitat for Humanity.
“Construction is a high-demand field, and there is significant demand in our area for qualified, trained professionals,” said Joan Scocco, director of the ACT institute. “Not only have these students learned valuable skills throughout the course of this program, they have all met with local employers who are eager to hire local workers.”
The 170-hour program featured 55 hours of hands-on building, along with training for the OSHA 10 professional certification and curriculum in workplace ethics and communication.
Students were also able to earn three college credits by completing coursework in architectural construction, and all graduates were connected with local employers at the conclusion of the program.
“The mission of the ACT Institute is to provide creative and innovative programming and pathways that do the most good for the greatest number of people,” said Scocco.
“Working with local business leaders, Brookdale faculty and staff, and the Monmouth County Workforce Development Board, I believe this program has achieved that mission. It is the goal of the ACT Institute to make this a sustainable program so that we can continue to offer it on a regular basis and expand on it.”
For 21-year-old Namir Gaitor, of Asbury Park, the training program could be the first step in a long, productive career.
“I’ve worked in [auto] detailing, and I enjoy working with my hands, but the pay is not great,” said Gaitor, during the final week on the program on Aug 11. “In construction, I think I have the ability to grow and build a career and provide for my family. That’s what I want, and I’m confident now that I can do that.”
This year, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL) identified construction labor and first-line supervision of construction as “in demand” occupations in the state. According to the DOL there were nearly 24,000 employed construction laborers in New Jersey in 2015, with an average salary of $49,440. First-line construction supervisors earned an average salary of more than $77,000.
Nationally, there were more than 550,000 job openings in construction and manufacturing as of June, according to a new report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a record 6.2 million job openings in all fields across the U.S.
According to interim Brookdale President David Stout, Brookdale’s new ACT Institute will work to help fill those openings by establishing new relationships with area employers and provided local workers with short-term, targeted training.
“The Accelerated Career and Technical Institute offers exciting short-term training opportunities that are providing members of our community with pathways to in-demand careers,” said Stout, adding that he was proud to see the first cohort of construction training graduates move from the classroom to the job interview process.
“We are aggressively pursuing partnerships with employers and dedicating our resources to the development of additional programs in order to offer even more possibilities for our local residents.”
Support for the Construction Basics and Building Technology was provided by: Edward O’Neill, Professor of Architecture; Margaret Zeik, Architecture Laboratory/Studio Assistant, Architecture; Geoffrey Shields, Speech Communication Academic Tutor; Amy Gingold, Learning Commons Assistant; Martin Davis, OHSA Instructor; Mark Zegarelli, CPS Instructor; Anoop Ahluwalia, STEM Institute Dean; and Nancy McHugh, Automotive Technology Lab Coordinator.
To learn more about Brookdale’s new Accelerated Career and Technical Institute, click here.
Check out more photos from the Construction Basics and Building Technology program here.