Week of April 17, 2006
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Florida Site Sparks Student Interest in Housing Careers

In a recent full-day visit to Florida’s planned community of Palencia, located just outside of St. Augustine, some 450 local students and Home Builders Institute (HBI) trainees from the Jacksonville Job Corps Center received a first-hand look at the many career possibilities that await them in the housing industry.

This was the first time that many of the students had been to an actual home construction site, and from its muddy ruts to its gabled roofs, the development provided a memorable experience for those itching to put on a pair of work boots and a hard hat as well as those more inclined to check out the floor finishes or paint colors.

Led by the Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA), and also including the participation of St. John’s River Community College, the event took four months to plan and was organized by members of the advisory board for HBI’s “Building Today’s Workforce for Tomorrow” program.

"We invited all construction and design students from Baker, Clay, Duval and St. John’s counties," said Laura Laseman, NEFBA’s training director. "Our intent is to keep kids interested in construction as a career, to show them all of the aspects of the industry and to get them fired up."

Student tours were led by teams that included home builders association members, Palencia sales staff and craft skills professionals. Laseman added that Palencia — which consists of about 2,400 single-family, condominium and town homes on 2,200 acres — was an ideal site for observing a wide range of activity.

Noting the healthy interaction of the students with their tour guides, Anna Lebesch, vice president of workforce development at the community college, said that, "We want to get students enthused about construction because it's vital to our economy."

HBI’s “Building Today’s Workforce for Tomorrow” grant was awarded by the Department of Labor as part of the President’s “High Growth Job Training Initiative.” In addition to Florida, training sites are up and running in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.

For more information on “Building Today’s Workforce for Tomorrow,” e-mail John Shortt at HBI, or call him at 800-795-7955 x8924.

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