Indiana Builders Invest in Trade Students Success
NAHB is spotlighting career and technical education (CTE) related stories throughout CTE Month® in February.
What is the secret to building a reservoir of local residential construction industry talent? In Garrett, Ind., a half hour north of Fort Wayne, the local home builders association, school, community leaders and area employers work together to support students enrolled in building trades classes. Career exploration in Garrett begins in middle school. Then, students select a career path in their junior year and are job-ready by graduation.
“I enjoy opportunities to visit the Garrett students and see the current projects — their work is always so impressive,” said Rebecca Cameron, executive officer of the HBA of Fort Wayne. “We strongly encourage our members to visit Garrett and our other student chapters to connect with the students and, ideally, create working relationships that will extend beyond graduation day.”
The Building Trades class at Garrett High School recently broke ground on its 50th home. The local community selected the project as “2023 Home of the Year.” In addition, a DeKalb County, Ind., tourism video touted Garrett High School’s Career Development Program (CDP). The home gave students a comprehensive building experience, from breaking ground to learning about rooftop solar power generation. Proceeds from the sale of the house benefit the Building Trades program.
The school administration created a schedule for work-based learning classes featuring the long blocks of time needed for hands-on subjects. The block schedule also allows students to work paid, off-campus jobs two or more full days per week. Employers, including HBA members, come to the school from November through February and make presentations to all students, not just those currently enrolled in CDP classes, to raise awareness of the many career opportunities for skilled trades professionals.
Dedicated, talented and creative faculty members are also vital. Current CDP director Corey Schoon runs a Reverse Career Fair, a refreshing take in which the students stand in the booths and pitch their portfolios to employers seeking workers. Garrett High School’s architectural design students were awarded both Rookie of the Year and 1st Place winner in the NAHB Secondary Schools Competition – Architecture Track at the NAHB International Builders’ Show® in 2020, a testimony to outstanding teaching and student learning.