Reinventing Builder Education

According to a recent story in Fine Homebuilding, the Great Recession discouraged thousands of high school graduates from entering the construction industry. In the early 2000s, 19-to-24-year-olds made up 18% of the construction workforce. Today, that number has shrunk to just 13%.                  

In America, there’s still a tacit belief that every high school grad should pursue a college diploma. That’s one reason why our trade apprenticeship programs are severely underfunded. The Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship has a budget of only $28 million compared to $2 billion annual funding in the United Kingdom. 

Many young builders are now getting craftsman-level training online by watching experts like Will Beemer build a mortise-and-tenon joint. They’re also learning how to promote their work using Instagram and other social media platforms. 

Once high school grads receive foundational training in the homebuilding trade, their careers can stall if they don’t receive ongoing education in their 30s and beyond. Denver-based Construction Instruction provides that type of lifelong education by offering both online and hands-on courses. The company has produced a number of 3D animated videos that liberate students from manuals by vividly showing how to install products like LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Rated OSB Sheathing. These animations are also available on smartphones by downloading the “Construction Instruction” app.

“In response to the fast-growing demand for on-site courses, we’re opening a new facility in Phoenix this fall that will allow builders, architects and developers to spend more than a single day getting hands-on training,” says Gord Cooke, a principal of Construction Instruction. 

The new facility will feature multi-day courses on a variety of topics, including high-performance walls, remodeling for energy efficiency, and moisture management. “From our perspective, moisture management is the fundamental element of building science training because moisture is the number one thing that destroys buildings and building materials. When a home experiences leaks, decay or mold, everything else suffers,” says Cooke. “That’s why it’s a key element in our curriculum.” For more course information, look for Ci Live at www.constructioninstruction.com.

 Ironically, it took a Harvard University study to convince educators that America’s “college for all” bias needs to change. LP is proud of its affiliation with people like Gord Cooke who are vocal supporters of lifelong builder education.

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