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Focus – Construction Education – Meeting industry demands through rapid workforce training

image Kevin Brackmeyer, Executive Director, Skillpoint Alliance, Austin, TX

AUSTIN – Kevin Brackmeyer, executive director at Skillpoint Alliance, is a former educator of 30 years who believes that closing the poverty gap by providing valuable, rapid, industry recognized certifications to some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens is their most important mission.

“We know for certain that the construction industry is experiencing rapid growth and there is no question that Central Texas, as well as the rest of the country, is struggling to find ways to meet the current demands for qualified workers to fill middle skills jobs,” Brackmeyer says.

The current workforce shortage is expected to get worse, right? What is your organization doing to help?
    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for skilled labor in construction will increase an estimated 25 percent by the year 2022.  To meet this upcoming surge in employment, Skillpoint Alliance has ramped up their programing and expanded their services by opening a second training facility in Waco.

Is construction education out of reach for many people in terms of money and/or time?
    The programs Skillpoint offers are all termed “Gateway”, which provides rapid job training and education that prepares participants for entry-level employment in as little as four to 12 weeks.
    Gateway courses involve a combination of hands-on and lecture-style instruction. This instruction directly translates to the tasks and skills graduates will be asked to perform on a daily basis when they are hired into their field.  Under Skillpoint’s most popular training model, every student will spend 40 hours per week in class, with the same punctuality and etiquette expectations of a regular job.

What are some of the courses Skillpoint offers?
    Skillpoint implements a rigorous curriculum from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).
    The NCCER is well known worldwide as the standard for construction training. Within the construction industry, Skillpoint offers electrical, HVAC, plumbing, welding, and machine operator certifications and will soon expand to provide carpentry later this year.
    Each of the trainings provides opportunities for entry into a career that will lead to upward mobility and increased wages. Training schedules and programming may differ each year in response to fluctuations in the regional job market and the needs of the community. Skillpoint responds to community needs by working to bring industry leaders together for a better understanding of the needs of employers.

You mentioned not only providing workers for the construction industry, but giving a hand up to some of the area’s more vulnerable citizens. How does this work?
    With leadership from industry partners, every course includes training that is directly connected to what Central Texas employers are seeking in their employees. Skillpoint is currently exploring other delivery models, including providing trainings in the evenings and on weekends in order to provide more opportunities for individuals to be able to attend classes.
    Our staff is looking forward to increasing Skillpoint’s programming and helping our most vulnerable citizens access the workforce in viable sustainable careers that will propel them out of the poverty cycle while at the same time increasing economic growth and filling the needs of the area’s workforce. 
    We have an incredibly supportive and engaged board of directors who truly want to make a social impact in our community.

Do your students typically finish successfully?
    Skillpoint Alliance touts a graduation rate of over 89%. -cw

    Skillpoint Alliance is a 501(c)3 social enterprise that builds partnerships with area industries, educational institutions and the community in order to meet this challenge.  The organization was started in 1994 when Austin Mayor Bruce Todd called upon the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the City of Austin to collaborate together in forming a task force that eventually led to the recommendation and development of the Capital Area Training Foundation (CATF), known today as Skillpoint Alliance.

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