The SoLe Mia Local Preference Office’s free construction training program, offered in partnership with CBT College to seniors at North Miami Senior High School, has completed its first seven-month session and awarded ten graduates with diplomas in Building Construction Technology.
“[The program] allowed students the opportunity, including several girls that were in the program, to be part of an industry that they probably never would have otherwise been a part of, and to get the exposure and the experience that they need, so that they can have additional opportunities to build their own communities,” says Tonya Edwards, senior project manager with the SoLe Mia LPO.
Over the past seven months, each student received introductory training in a number of construction trades, as well as hands-on training experience in CBT College’s Miami Gardens campus laboratories. All graduates have earned 21 college credits, and are now qualified to enter the workforce as a building construction technicians or assistants.
Abner Santos, 18, was drawn to the program because of his father’s work as a handyman, as well as his own interest in electricity. “They came for the orientation, and I said, “Oh, this is something my dad would do, and he seems to have fun with it, and this is really interesting,”” says Santos. “Not only did I learn electricity, I also learned plumbing, masonry, and carpentry. And I found it very worth it, because, why not? Why not learn other things I can use in the future? Not only that, but, I also learned how to communicate, how to do interviews, how to set up a resume. It’s not only work, but also real life skills.”
“[The program] showed me what it’s like to actually work inside the field,” said Kerry Oscar, 18. “For example, during the program Ms. Tanya Edwards had people from those fields coming in, and they shared a little bit about their experiences. And I felt like that was something I wanted to do growing up.”
For Oscar, the hands on experience was the most successful part of the course. “They taught us how to build, how to frame houses, how to share power and make an outlet work… a whole lot of stuff I never knew before. And certainly, a lot of the things that I learned I can use in my own home.”
Both Oscar and Santos are now enrolled CBT College’s electrical program, and have applied for internship positions at Hollywood Woodwork, an interior/exterior detailing company based in Hollywood, Fla.
“We had some guest speakers come in to speak to the students that were from contractors,” says Edwards. “And some of them, they were so impressed that they shared with them the internship program that they had at Hollywood Woodworks. And out of the class, five applied, and they’ve been interviewed.”
For future sessions, Edwards hopes to expand the program’s enrollment – and plans to add more building technology software training to the curriculum. “If we were to change anything we would add on additional technology, because we do understand that many students are tech-savvy, and it’s great for their skillset,” she says.