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Eight recent high school graduates from Dougherty County schools completed the Construction Ready program, which included a hiring fair with local construction industry employers.

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ALBANY — The Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) has expanded its Construction Ready program into Dougherty County, making its 20-day construction education program available to recent high school graduates with training, credentialing and job placement. The Dougherty County training was hosted by the Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy (4C Academy).

Eight recent high school graduates from Dougherty County schools completed the Construction Ready program Friday, which included a hiring fair with local construction industry employers. One hundred percent of the cohort received offers of employment at the graduation ceremony. The eight credentials earned by the students include National Center for Construction Education and Research Core, OSHA 10-Hour Card, First Aid/CPR/BB/AED, Powder Actuated Tool Certification, Laser Tool Certification, Forklift Safety Awareness, A.T.S.S.A. Utility Flagger Certification, and Competent Person Training in Fall Protection.

In addition to receiving these credentials, the students also learned about opportunities for advancing their construction education from members of Albany Technical College’s Carlton Construction Academy. ATC instructors from the carpentry, masonry and electrical programs shared career information with the students while Lisa Harrell, dean of Academic Affairs, shared information about the flexibility of the offerings along with tuition assistance through the HOPE Career Grant.

The Construction Ready expansion into southwest Georgia and a program for recent high school graduates is part of a major growth of the program across Georgia, financed in part by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund (a part of the CARES Act). In August 2020, Governor Kemp announced CEFGA was selected to receive $3.3 million to expand the Construction Ready program. The GEER funding supports important education and work force training to help Georgians move past the pandemic.

“We were excited to have the Construction Ready program expand to southwest Georgia to help grow the construction work force in our region of the state where there is a high demand for talent,” Chris Hatcher, CEO of the 4C Academy, said. “This program is an excellent way for students to attain skills, learn about continuing education from our partner at Albany Technical College, and get a job with a local firm.”

Since 2014, CEFGA, through the Construction Ready program, has trained more than 1,200 workers of all ages for a successful career in construction. Successes of the program include:

♦ 97% job placement by end of training

♦ Average starting salary of $12-15/hour

♦ 70% of participants employed with same company one year later

The goal of the Construction Ready program is to help close the work force skills gap. The Nationwide Workforce Initiative finds that for every five people who retire from the skilled professions, there is only one apprentice to fill the job. The lack of skilled workers is also a problem in Georgia as a shortage of more than 61,000 workers was reported in 2019. The shortage has continued through the pandemic. Closing this skills gap by educating more Georgians about careers in the skilled professions is CEFGA’s primary goal.

The students were recognized during the graduation ceremony and said they were grateful for the opportunity.

“I am very thankful for this program. It changed me. It gave me a new purpose. I’m on to a new career,” said Dwaski King, who was matched with Pellicano Construction.

Each student received a plaque, their credentials, and an envelope that contained the company where the student matched. All of the graduates matched and will report to work on Monday.

“I’m so excited. I’m on to bigger and better things,” remarked Ricky Jefferson, who was matched with MetroPower.

“It’s great to see CEFGA allocating Georgia’s GEER funding to recent high school graduates who can benefit from the Construction Ready program,” Kemp said. “These are challenging times for our state, but we will continue to work around the clock to support our students with work force training, improve outcomes, and help place hard-working Georgians into great careers in the construction industry.”

More information on the Construction Ready program and CEFGA can be found by visiting https://cefga.org.

This article originally ran on albanyherald.com.

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