by Charlie Chippeo
Amid a pandemic, it’s not easy to provide the training young people need to access lucrative construction careers, but the Gould Construction Institute, the training affiliate of Associated Builders and Contractors’ Massachusetts Chapter, is rising to the occasion in unprecedented times.
When you look at responses from a recent survey of Gould students, it’s easy to see why a growing number of young men and women are looking to construction. One wrote, “Knowledge is power, and with the right focus and hard work, there will always be jobs for the trades.”
“I wanted more than working 60 hours a week for low wages at the pizza shop I was at,” another added. Construction offers a pathway to a real career – without the massive college debt that is crippling so many graduates.
Last spring, Gould began a remarkably smooth transition from classroom to online learning. “Remote learning saves people a 20-mile trip from work to the classroom on a cold December night after a long day of work,” said Tim Hathaway, president of Larkin Hathaway Inc., a Bridgewater sheet metal contractor, and also a member of Gould’s board of directors. “A lot of our employees have young families, and remote learning allows them to avoid the commute and spend more time at home.”
Rick Enwright, New England/mid-Atlantic field manager for New England Air Tech, agrees, “I have one employee who struggled to make it home from work, shower, eat, and then make it to class on time. He loves the remote classroom.”
Most of Gould’s students are young, meaning that the transition has been less daunting than it would be for an older group. “Most of these students grew up in front of computers,” said Dan McCauley, an electrical instructor from Rivers Electrical in Holbrook. “They can figure it out.”
Remote learning has also brought benefits for employers. Enwright said another of his employees “may be going to Virginia to help us on a project. He was looking forward to classes and wouldn’t have been willing to travel if it meant missing them.”
Hathaway also observed that “since employees don’t have to commute and get home from class late at night, they’re less burnt out and more able to absorb what they’re being taught.”
Remote learning has also been an adjustment for instructors. Both McCauley and Rick Broderick, a 31-year Gould electrical instructor, say that doing it well requires more preparation.
Gould is providing instructors with the training they need. Broderick said, “Gould’s been doing a very good job of supporting its teachers.” McCauley concurred, adding, “I like the transition. Considering how quickly they’ve had to put it together, they’ve done a great job.”
Charlie Chippeo is ABC PR consultant at Chieppo Strategies LLC.