Four years ago, when the Lake County School System and the Villages Charter High School started making plans to start construction academies, students who wanted to pursue not college-bound programs in construction had no place to go.
After a decade of malaise in the construction industry due to the economic collapse of 2008, an inflection of construction growth collided with an industry in which the base labor had shrunk dramatically because of age and the economy. Simply put, there were not enough people for the construction demand.
It was also during this time in which educators and political leaders began to really discuss the value of a college education and if it would leave the student with unimaginable student debt for a mid-level career. It wasn’t hard to figure out that good-paying jobs in construction were plentiful, and if properly trained in high school or technical school, students could walk into some amazing job opportunities.
The number of students who signed up initially for the academies were low and everything had to be setup and organized. Nevertheless, strong public-private advisory boards started guiding the way, and along with a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter students began working on real projects and learning real skills.
Building houses and preparing students for great careers was no longer a dream, it was happening. Every academy started seeing excitement, and growth, along with summer jobs through the Academy of Construction Technologies program. Also, with a little help of video promotion of the projects, the programs at all the locations have taken off.