Let’s Help Close The Skills Gap

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

Learning From North Carolina

Michael Sutter, MCAA Chairman

If you remember, in my last article I wrote about the “Skills Gap” we have with kids coming out of high school and not being career ready. I know the schools in North Carolina are very successful at masonry training in the high schools. So, I asked Lynn Nash, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association (NCMCA) what his secret was so I could copy it here in Arizona. He told me that he wishes he could take credit for it but he didn’t have much to do with it at all. It is actually the mason contractors in his association that have adopted a school near their office and helped that school and instructor to teach masonry. I have been thinking a lot about that the last few months after I had this conversation with Lynn. I decided if they can do it in North Carolina then we can do it here as well. I have adopted a school, West-Mec in Verrado that is near my office. I have met the instructor, visited the facility and provided some additional material and equipment that was needed. Now comes the hard part, helping with the necessary instruction. My time is very valuable to me but I have committed to him that either me or someone from my company will be there to help with the instruction. They have a morning class and an afternoon class that are each three hours long. Wish me well and I will let you know how it goes. I hope this model can be repeated across the country so we can all give the North Carolina boys some competition at our events but also to train the much needed skills that make these kids career ready! With our Mid-year meetings just completed, I hope everyone had a great time in Steamboat Springs. As I mentioned before, this is where we set the direction of the MCAA for the coming year. We set all our committee goals and they all have a clear path to where we are going and how we will get there. I look forward to hearing reports from the committees on their progress. A new item we are working on is an on boarding process for mason contractors. We all know there are certain things that need to be taught to our new employees. Some of these items need to be taught before they even set foot on one of our jobsites for the first time. Other items can be added during the course of their employment. To help our members with this process, MCAA is developing a list of videos that new employees can watch and learn from. We have a pretty big list of topics that we would like to provide and are narrowing the list down to what we absolutely have to have first. All the topics will be individual videos that can be selected cafeteria style. Some of the topics we discussed were HAZ Comm, PPE and Silica for beginning topics with many more to follow such as Fall Protection, Scaffold, Power Tools and many more. I’m sure our Safety Committee will do a great job putting these together that we can all take advantage of. I was very impressed with the emphasis on silica that was in last month’s magazine. As we are all very aware the rule will be enforced later this month. The MCAA has put on over 30 Train the Trainer classes across the country and trained over 700 people that then these trainers went back to your companies and trained your competent people and your employees. I hope we are all ready for this as I know it will be one of the first questions OSHA asks on a jobsite inspection. It may seem a little early to you but it really isn’t. The MCAA Convention at World of Concrete/World of Masonry isn’t that far away. The officers and staff have been working on this since our last one in January concluded. There is a lot of preparation and planning to do and we have been busy. Mark you calendars for January 21st – 25th in Las Vegas. See you there!
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