More than 75 students from a dozen area high schools came together to show off what they’ve learned and gain a chance to move onto state competition in the in the Northwest Georgia Workforce Development Alliance Skills Challenge held in recent days in Cedartown.
The Polk County College and Career Academy’s Cedartown campus also played host to area contractors who when students are done with their education at area schools need their talent immediately.
Contractors from a variety of fields jumped at the chance to sponsor the event and bring with them recruiting materials for youth from schools near and far. Those included Adairsville High, Carrollton High, Cass High, Chattooga High, Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy, Gordon Central High, North Paulding High, Pickens High, Polk County College and Career Academy — Cedartown High, Polk County College and Career Academy — Rockmart High, and Rome High.
Students took part in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, team work, blueprint reading and welding competitions through the day on Nov. 19.
As students worked, judges as well as interested parties from Brassfield & Gorrie and Duffey Southeast walked around and introduced themselves to potential future employers, and had booths setup within the HON room at the Cedartown campus to give students a chance to learn more about what awaits them in the job market when they finish their work in the college and career academies.
Mike Dunham, the CEO of AGC Georgia was on hand for the event and excited to see the level of talent students already have on the high school level.
“Our industry has a big need for new workers,” he said. “What we’re doing here at in four other regions around the state is to give young men and women a chance to demonstrate the skills they are learning in school, and to come out and sharpen their skills as well. We hope that they see a career path and see a future for themselves in this industry.”
Opportunities abound for students who are able to lay brick, run a clean weld or knows how to wire up a circuit breaker panel. Starting pay in many of these professions as the rate of retirement in skill trades like plumbing, carpentry, masonry, electrical and more begin to increase.
“If you’re a mason, if you’re carpenter, if you’re can hang drywall, you’re needed,” Dunham said. “If you’re a truck driver, you’re needed. I had a gentleman call me from a concrete company recently that had three trucks sitting in the yard needing to be driven and delivered that day, and he didn’t have drivers for them. Our industry has a need in every position right now.”
Brassfield & Gorrie’s Chris Britton agreed. He was hoping that future graduates locally and around the area will consider donning hard hats and getting to work on the ever-growing number of construction projects underway.
“If you drive through downtown Atlanta, and you see the number of tower cranes that are standing up right now, you know that everyone of those jobs needs qualified people,” Britton said. “There’s kids that don’t necessarily want to go to college. They want to learn a skill trade, they want to work with their hands. The construction industry has historically been a challenge because no one wants to go into construction.”
He said students can have a “phenomenal career” working on construction and contracting trades, and work for a company and make just as much as college graduates right out of high school.
“It’s a great recruiting tool,” he said.
Companies involved in the competition raised around $35,000 to help with the costs of students taking part in the Skills Challenge. PCCCA provided setups for the challenges as well to ensure that everything was ready the day of the event.