HBI, Louisiana Tech Schools Help to Rebuild New Orleans
Despite large-scale Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, led by countless organizations and people donating time and resources, the city faces major obstacles in restoring its housing and employment base, largely because of shortages of skilled labor.
In response, Home Builders Institute (HBI), the workforce development arm of NAHB, has begun working with the Louisiana Community & Technical College System (LCTCS) to offer training geared specifically to rebuilding the New Orleans area.
Training began last month at the Louisiana Technical College’s Hammond Area campus, using the industry-sponsored curriculum provided by HBI’s Residential Construction Academy (RCA) Series. With funding from the Department of Labor’s Pathways to Construction Employment program, LTC — Hammond will train 240 skilled workers by the end of June.
Three area home builders associations — the Louisiana HBA, the HBA of Greater New Orleans and the Tangipahoa HBA — have partnered with the college system and HBI to offer their expertise and resources to the training program.
With assistance from its partners, LTC – Hammond has adapted its established curriculum to focus on the area’s growing need for residential construction skills. Volunteers of America, along with several other local social service agencies, is working hard to identify people who are looking for this specialized training.
The first group of 34 students is spending 30 hours a week in the classroom. As the training progresses, they will apply their skills outside the classroom through participation in community service projects.
“Hammond is excited to be credentialed by HBI and NAHB as a residential construction training institution,” said John Flood, head of the Building Trades Department at LTC – Hammond. “The need for skilled workers in the home building sector has become extremely high and we’ve attracted a great mix of students. The students here range from 18 to 49, high school grads to displaced workers. We are just trying to build or rebuild careers and help the people of Louisiana.”
Another school in the LCTCS system — the River Parishes campus in Reserve — will also be training students to assist in the Katrina rebuilding efforts. Its program is funded by a $60,000 donation from the NAHB Home Building Industry Disaster Relief Fund and a Pathways to Construction Employment grant.
Thomson Delmar Learning, publisher of the RCA Series, created a customized curriculum that is tailored to the needs of the Greater New Orleans area.
Opening its doors in January, the River Parishes program will provide intensive training over a four-week period in three critical elements of residential construction: framing, roofing and drywall.
“For the past several years, high schools had gone away from directing students toward skilled trades, but now the demand is so huge that the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce is encouraging schools to retool their curriculum to teach students the home building skills,” said Randy Noel, NAHB's state representative for Louisiana. “The career possibilities for students in the New Orleans area are amazing; many entry-level workers are earning $20 an hour and have the opportunity to someday own their own business.”
For more information on HBI’s programs with LCTCS, e-mail Steve Kramer or call him at 800-795-7955 x8925. Click here to visit HBI’s Katrina relief Web page.