Turning out construction workers in 9 weeks flat | From the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Published: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 10:14 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 10:14 a.m.

SARASOTA – Riverview High School graduate Josh Wynne started as a carpenter 18 years ago.

Now he builds million-dollar homes in Sarasota.

Wynne says he wishes there had been a course like the nine-week “Construction Express” class that started last week at Manatee Technical College, when he was getting out of high school.

It might have saved him some time.

“I had never held a nail gun. I had never pushed a circular saw,” Wynne said. “I was hauling lumber, cleaning up the jobs, pulling nails, nailing down hurricane straps.

“That is how you start.”

Pressed by Southwest Florida’s builders and contractors at a late February “construction summit” to come up with practical solutions to meeting the region’s labor force needs, Manatee Tech arrived at the new quickie course, which costs $1,500 and provides the successful student with three certificates that should help him or her get started. They are safety training, carpenter helper, and basic forklift.

As a sign of how tough it is to find workers willing to sweat it out on a job site, just six showed up for the orientation meeting on Friday, even though CareerSource Suncoast and Goodwill Manasota have found the money to pay for all of them to attend the course for free.

Martha Meyers, the business and industry specialist at Manatee Tech who got the class set up, says her plan now is use the success of this first class to launch one with more students in August.

Orientation day was last Thursday.“You’ll see what it takes to bring a house out of the ground,” instructor Barry King told his inaugural group.

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