The following is an excerpt from an article by Joanna Masterson, From Classroom to Career: Ohio Construction Academy Offers High School Curriculum And Apprenticeship Instruction, appearing in the April 2014 issue of Construction Executive.
When Bart Hacker was president of the Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the first thing he did was meet with member companies and ask about their most pressing challenges. By far, the biggest issue construction firms had to contend with was the economic downturn and corresponding high unemployment.
When Hacker assumed the leadership role at the ABC Central Ohio Chapter in October 2011, he did the same outreach exercise, but with a much different result. In this case, nine out of 10members complained about not having enough people to fill available jobs.
“We focus heavily on craft apprenticeship training, but we rely on member companies to hire those people and then bring them to us to train,” Hacker says. “We wanted to figure out how to be the mechanism to provide potential employees to our members.”
ABC Central Ohio zeroed in on deficiencies in high school technical training in the Franklin County area surrounding Columbus. Vocational programs either were nonexistent or focused on automotive and computer technology. And any students that found their way to apprenticeship training after finishing vocational school would have to start at square one because none of their credits transferred to the chapter’s Department of Labor-approved program.
The clear answer was to initiate training at the high school level, but how? Hacker’s staff began investigating the idea of opening a state charter school for students to earn a high school diploma while receiving up to two levels of apprenticeship instruction.
“The intent was to start a school years from now, but a consultant told us charter schools were on an upswing in Ohio. We could get a license and utilize our existing training space for high schoolers during the day and apprentices in the evening,” Hacker says. “We took it to our board of directors in December 2012 and they charged us with making it happen.”
By the following spring, the chapter secureda sponsor and executed a contract to start the Ohio Construction Academy (OCA). Governance was put in place in July and the first class of 30 students started in September.
Since first being published by Associated Builders and Contractors Services Corp. in 2003, the magazine has served as the leading source for news, market developments and business issues impacting the construction industry. For more information, visit www.constructionexec.com or follow @ConstructionMag. The full article detailing the Ohio Construction Academy can be read here.