KOKOMO, Ind. – In response to a critical shortage of skilled employees in the homebuilding industry in north central Indiana, Building Construction Technology programs are returning to the Kokomo Campus of Ivy Tech Community College.
“Research by the State of Indiana shows that more than 200 building construction jobs open up each year within Ivy Tech Kokomo’s service area,” said Jacob Adams, workforce development consultant for the region, “and wages are good. For example, the median salary for construction carpenters in Indiana, as of June 2018, was more than $21 an hour. The Ivy Tech programs are designed to prepare students to fill these good-paying jobs that are critical to the economic future of our communities.”
Starting this fall, Ivy Tech Kokomo is offering classes that lead to Ivy Tech certificates and technical certificates in three specialties of building construction: building construction management, carpentry, and electrical. All classes incorporate certification examinations through NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research), which result in certifications recognized by building construction employers across the United States.
Industry representatives across the country are pointing to a shortage of trained and skilled employees as the most widespread challenge facing builders in 2019 and the Hoosier state is no exception.
“Our builders deal with it every day. It’s an extreme shortage,” says Terry Smith, vice president of the Home Builders Association of Howard County. Now Kokomo sales representative for Henry Poor Lumber, Smith has worked in the building industry for more than 40 years.
“We have shortages in every area, from people with the necessary math skills to translate blueprints into material lists and cost estimates to the subcontractors who dig the foundations, frame the structures, install the electrical and mechanical systems, and lay the bricks,” he added. “Building projects are being delayed, building projects are being lost just because there aren’t enough people to do the work.”
For Josh Speer, who joined Ivy Tech Kokomo earlier this year as dean of the School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Science, the re-boot of the Building Construction Technology program is a prime example of Ivy Tech responding to community needs.
“There is a real need here,” Speer said. “The state’s economic data says it, the employers say it. We will be coordinating with area high schools and career and technical centers to create a seamless transfer pathway that students can follow from high school to Ivy Tech to employer. And it’s a pathway to a high-demand, high-wage career.”
For Bill Slonaker, chair of the Building Construction Technology programs, the new initiative is a great way for younger students to prepare for lucrative careers.
“Students will be able to take the first four classes in the program, two in each semester of their senior year, through the dual credit program at their schools,” Slonaker said. “Through classes at Ivy Tech, they can then complete a building construction specialist certificate – in the electrical, carpentry, or management specialties – by the end of the summer after they graduate from high school.”
The carpentry and electrical specialist certificates prepare graduates for an Indiana county contractor license and National Electrical Code Certification, respectively, both credentials valued by employers.
A one-year program with similar timing for those already out of high school will begin this fall at Ivy Tech, with students taking two classes starting in August and two starting in January with specialty classes to complete the 22-credit-hour certificate programs next summer, Slonaker said. This can be a way for people currently “under-employed” to gain the skills they need to get better jobs.
With an additional 10 credit hours of coursework that includes workplace communications and applied technical mathematics, students can earn a technical certificate in their chosen specialty. Under Ivy Tech’s “stackable” course structure, students can build on the courses taken for the technical certificate through online coursework to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in building construction management. That degree can then transfer to a four-year institution as the foundation of a baccalaureate degree in construction management.
“Currently, because of the skills shortage, employers are having to hire employees with no real background in construction, requiring expensive, time-consuming and inconsistent on-the-job training,” Speer said. “Our goal is to create a pool of well-trained, skilled, credentialed graduates to fill this need.”
Several members of the Home Builders Association of Howard County are part of Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Building Construction Technology Program Advisory Board, the professional voice within the program. They help in maintaining a relevant curriculum and work with students before, during, and after their educational experience to connect them with internship and employment opportunities.
To learn more about the Building Construction Technology program at Ivy Tech Kokomo, contact Bill Slonaker at 765-252-5547 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.
Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Service Area serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties, including the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, Rochester, and Tipton.
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