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13 Organizations Team Up to Attract Talent to the Construction Industry

Building Alabama

Benjamin Franklin Experience (BFE) is a non-profit summer program through which teens have day-in-the-life experiences in inspirational careers, including science, engineering, music, journalism, medicine, and construction.

Regional electrical contractor, CarolinaPower, together with Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the largest privately held construction firms in the nation, are co-hosting and sponsoring a day-long construction experience to show highly-motivated teens the dynamism of the industry and the opportunities that await them—including those for young women.

In the morning, students fabricate lighting fixtures in CarolinaPower’s warehouse, then head to a Brasfield & Gorrie jobsite in the afternoon—one of the largest construction sites ever in the City of Greenville, a $200 million dollar multi-use campus where people will live, work, and play.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to challenge misperceptions about the trades and help close the skills gap, sponsors the experience. “Putting on a hard hat and getting hands dirty is the best way to dive in and see if construction is a fit for you,” says Mary Sullivan, President of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. “It’s a great career option that shouldn’t be overlooked.” At the downtown jobsite, students install parking garage lighting fixtures manufactured by experience sponsor, Hubbell Lighting. As one of the largest lighting fixture manufacturers in North America, Hubbell Lighting features a suite of brands that provide a full range of indoor and outdoor lighting products serving the commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential markets. “As an electronics manufacturer we believe in encouraging and inspiring the next generation of engineers and trade professionals,” said Michael McCullough, director of public relations at Hubbell Lighting. “That’s why we jumped at the chance to partner with BFE on this initiative.”

On-site support and student-mentoring is also provided by sponsors Eldeco, electrical contractors; Waldrop Mechanical Services; and O’Neal, Inc., Engineering and Construction. These companies, together with CarolinaPower and Brasfield & Gorrie, are members of sponsoring organization, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC Carolinas Chapter), an association dedicated to workforce development in the construction industry.

Supplies and tools that students get to keep after the experience are provided by Southwire, and experience learning materials are donated by Holder Electric Supply, and Shealy Electrical, a division of Border States. Loaned materials are offered by Carson’s Nut & Bolt, and US Tool.

The first and second of three experiences were held on June 20 and July 16. The third experience will be held on August 1. Twenty students participate each day.

“It’s so neat to be a part of building and creating something for the city that will be here for generations,” says student and participant, Avery Walters. “I wasn’t sure at first if I would be into this experience, but it has been incredible.”

“Exposing students to careers in construction is essential to helping our industry develop the next generation of builders,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Vice President Ben Barfield. “Across our company’s footprint, we partner with a variety of programs to help attract and retain new and diverse members of the construction workforce while giving back to our local communities. This program will benefit the Upstate community by equipping young people with knowledge about viable career options while helping strengthen our industry as a whole.”

Video and additional photos of the experience will be available in late August. Participating companies will be sharing the video to recruit and encourage more young people into the trades. Subscribe to the Benjamin Franklin Experience newsletter at http://eepurl.com/drijWz to be notified of the video’s release. “The logistics involved in creating this day are herculean,” explains Benjamin Franklin Experience Founder, Jonathan Shanin, “But the power and impact of experiential learning is evidenced in our results.” CarolinaPower Vice President and General Manager, Chris Moore, confirms, “After the first experience, students who would have never considered a career in construction have sought enrollment in our apprenticeship program. We are successfully changing the future of the construction industry by sharing our passion for the craft, and this is just the beginning.”

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