Leesburg High Construction Academy advisory board provides mentors, field trips, internships for students
LEESBURG – Electric Works is the newest member of the Leesburg High School Construction Academy advisory board, established to keep program administrators and instructors informed about current industry needs and standards so students are well prepared for employment.
In addition, advisory board members provide resources for the program, mentors, field trips, guest speakers, internships and other means of support for the construction academy, which was reinvigorated this school year thanks to an $866,000 grant from the state.
“A big part of Lake County getting this grant was the support from our industry partners,’’ said Lynnea Weissman, the academy’s grant project manager. “The relationships that we build with the community are just as impactful to this program as the money. The support we are getting from the community is almost overwhelming. We are so blessed to have leaders in the community who help us out.”
Seventy-five students are enrolled in the academy, which gives students the opportunity to learn their core content within a field of interest and develop job skills while earning industry certifications in the fields of carpentry, plumbing, electrical and masonry. The goal is to grow the program to 140 students.
Along with Electric Works, other organizations represented on the advisory board include: Anchor Coatings; Brown and Brown Insurance; Electric Services, Inc.; Evergreen Construction; Grizzard Real Estate; Habitat for Humanity; HBA of Lake Sumter; JA Croson; Lee Woods Construction; Mark Cook Builders; Merritt Contracting Corp; QLM; RJ Rojas Builders; Ro-Mac Lumber Supply; Ross Plumbing; White Aluminum; White Pelican Home Services; and Ken Bragg, former Director of Lake Technical College.
“There’s a skilled labor shortage in the construction industry,” said Don Magruder, CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber Supply, who represents his company on the board. “The Great Recession retired millions of workers and left a huge void, in which replacement workers of the future were not being trained. Plus, today’s construction worker must know a lot more than they did just a few years ago. It’s not about hammering a nail. It’s about technology and understanding how new technology will further the construction industry.”
He applauded the LHS Construction Academy for stepping up to address the labor issue he described, pointing out the lucrative careers that await those trained with the proper skills, including entrepreneurial opportunities.
“But they need the support of the construction community,’’ he said. “The main purpose of the Leesburg High School Construction Academy is to link the public and private and get these kids to work and get them the skills to have a future.”