Contractors seek to create more construction apprentices

March 2016

A new program aims to generate more apprentices to address a shortage of construction workers.

A new program aims to generate more apprentices to address a shortage of construction workers.

The Associated Builders and Contractors in Broward County has partnered in the program with SouthTech Academy Adult Education in Boynton Beach.

SouthTech will offer a pre-apprentice track program beginning in August designed to lead to Associated Builders' apprentice program in Coconut Creek. The program will offer training in plumbing, electrical, heat ventilation and air conditioning, and other construction skills.

The partnership is one element of an expansion of Associated Builders' apprentice program, which also plans classes at Sheridan Technical College in Hollywood, said Peter Dyga, CEO of Associated Builders in Coconut Creek. With SouthTech and Sheridan classes, Associated Builders will have five apprentice or pre-apprentice programs in the state.

Dyga said he expects to have as many as 750 apprentices in training, up from the current 600, as a result of the programs.

"We're super excited to be back in Palm Beach," said Dyga, referring to the Associated Builders school it once had in Lake Worth but had to close as the recession took hold in 2008.

He said Associated Builders Contractors already has a long list of Palm Beach County contractors interested in enrolling potential apprentices in the classes it will teach at SouthTech. Associated Builders plans to teach electrical, plumbing, fire sprinkler and power distribution or line climbing skills at SouthTech.

"That missing piece for them in the high school in programs is after graduation, what's next? We will partner with them to get employment and to get more advanced skills," Dyga said.

State workforce development and education dollars will be used to support the trainng programs. Once the students become apprentices, they will be sponsored as well by a local contractor that will pay for their advanced education.

SouthTech Academy, which offers education for grades 6 through 12, was recently ranked on the list of "Best High Schools 2015" by U.S. News & World Report. SouthTech's adult education programs offer classes in some 30 fields, including medical coding and billing, auto engine repair and tune-up, bookkeeping and accounting, and marine outboard maintenance.

"Preparing students for all aspects of life is central to what we do at SouthTech," said James Kidd, president and CEO of SouthTech schools.

Florida's shortage of skilled construction workers is widespread, and 86 percent of construction firms nationwide report trouble filling all 21 specialty construction jobs, according to Associated General Contractors of America. Hardest to find are carpenters, sheet metal installers and concrete workers, according to a 2015 survey.

Individuals interested in training or job placement assistance in the construction industry may contact SouthTech Adult Education or Associated Builders and Contractors at or or 561-243-6650

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