HBI has programs in seven trades — carpentry, facilities maintenance, electrical wiring, painting, plumbing, brick masonry and landscaping — on 66 Job Corps campuses in 39 states. During our visit to the Whitney Young campus, we met the instructors and students in carpentry and facilities maintenance classes.
I was impressed with the attention and effort given to the soft skills that are so critical to a young person's ability to not only get a job, but to grow and to succeed. These instructors are not only teaching a skill and passing on a craft, they are helping to build self-esteem and in many instances, rebuilding young lives torn apart by personal challenges and adversity.
Let's not forget another outcome of their efforts — they are helping address the housing industry's critical need for qualified workers.
We also learned that many HBI programs on Job Corps campuses work closely with the industry. NAHB members volunteer as mentors and guest speakers, donate training equipment, embellish the curriculum or provide internship opportunities for the students. Of course, many also will employ the young graduates. HBAs and HBI programs have also collaborated in community service activities as well as home show exhibits and job fairs.
Conversely, HBI instructors participate in HBA activities at no cost, such as taking their students to the local HBA's monthly meeting. An initiative currently in its pilot stages would establish NAHB Student Chapters for HBI students on Job Corps campuses.
There are innumerable linkages and opportunities for HBAs and members that want to become involved with their local HBI Job Corps programs.
The visit helped me understand why NAHB and HBI have partnered with Job Corps for 29 years. I thank Shirley for sharing the program with us and I know there is so much more to learn.
I would encourage home builders associations to reach out to HBI Job Corps programs in their areas, to help our members tap into the enormous resource these young people represent to the home building industry nationwide.
Bob Weiss is president of the Home Builders Association of Kentucky and chairman of the NAHB Executive Officers Council.
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