Two high school seniors from Cloverdale, Cole Gradek and Andrew Brooks, are getting hands-on training for a possible career in construction through weekly meetings of the Healdsburg Chapter of the North Bay Construction Corps. The weekly message to the students in the program is that there is tremendous opportunity in the construction industry if they choose to pursue it.
The group has been meeting at Healdsburg High School since January, once a week for two hours, to hear from a contractor or trades person about their work, how they got into the trade and what skill set they expect of their employees.
The industry professional then takes the students through a hands-on skill building activity that is essential to the work they do. So far the students have heard presentations from electricians, plumbers, welders, heavy equipment operators, general contractors and others.
Emphasis is placed weekly on safety and basic construction skills like reading a tape measure, and understanding fractions and angles. The students work regularly with hand and power tools.
They also meet four Saturdays to explore a trade more in-depth. This year they are exploring heavy equipment operation, framing, concrete construction and residential home building.
Corps members also earn two credits of work experience at Santa Rosa Junior College that are transferable to a California State University.
The students will cap off their experience in a two-week boot camp in early summer where they will spend 40 hours per week on a construction project, just like a real job. If they aren’t on time, properly dressed and ready to work they risk being let go.
The chapter is led by coordinator Terry Pagni.
"Ever since its inception three years ago, the North Bay Construction Corps has strived to instill the importance of a good work ethic, good attitude, and soft skills with our students. This is constantly being reinforced by the contractors that introduce their various trades to them every week. To see them readily accept these skills and then use them is very rewarding. By the end of our program our students are ready to make an immediate impact with any company that hires them," Pagni said.
“I like how hands-on the program is, and they really give you the experience that you need,” Gradek, a student in the Cloverdale chapter said. “They bring people from the industry that are there looking for people like you, and you get in contact with the people that you really need to. For someone who doesn’t want to go to college or the JC even and they just want to go straight to work, this is a good program for them.”
Those interested in finding out more about the program should contact Robin Bartholow, Director of the North Bay Construction Corps, at 707-542-9502, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Submitted by Shelby Buchmann, NBCC