“There’s high demand for skilled labor due to the boom in construction projects happening across the area,” says Jamal Middleton, executive director of the nonprofit Greater Charleston Empowerment Corporation (GCEC), which works to boost economic stability in unserved and underserved local neighborhoods.
So GCEC and American College of the Building Arts created Building Skills Now, a tuition-free, nine-week program teaching adults carpentry, plasterwork, and masonry skills. Thanks to grants from the city and Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF), some 21 students will complete the second session on April 14, earning a certificate, tool kit, and gift card for buying boots and gloves. Organizers connect grads with potential employers and even offer help with “soft skills” like interviewing.
Enthuses HCF executive director Winslow Hastie: “The program helps under-employed residents become financially stable while filling a tremendous skilled labor shortage in the area of historic property renovation and repair.”