By Amanda Rogers
Eight young men lined up and pledged to close the skills gap during SkillsUSA National Signing Day at Ben Barber Innovation Academy on Tuesday.
“It’s similar to an athlete signing to play at a university,” explained Gene Schramme, construction technology teacher. “These young men are committed to continuing their careers in the industry they have chosen. They all have their NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) credentials, and some have their OSHA credentials.”
The seniors committed to become carpenters, welders, civil engineers, masons, HVAC technicians and to extend their education in trade schools and universities.
Michael Klein, director of business development for Klein Tools, attended the signing, happy to see more people entering construction trades.
“We are very excited about what you’re doing here,” Klein said. “There’s a lot going on right now and there’s a shortage of workers. We excited to see the growth that is going on, not only here, but throughout Texas.”
The students are ready to get to work.
Eduardo Alvarez, a senior at Lake Ridge High, has been working with Hull Associates, getting experience in a lot of areas.
“I do everything inside and outside,” Alvarez said. “Once you know how things work, you can have a team working effectively.”
Alvarez is planning to go to trade school and become a project manager.
The other students committing to construction trades were Saul Olalde, a senior at Legacy High who plans to become a carpenter; Kevin Hernandez, a Legacy senior who is set to become an electrician for FSG; Marco Ramirez, a senior at Summit High who will go to work for TD Industries; Jason Suarez, a Legacy senior who plans to become a mason; Chris Nicholson, a Legacy senior who plans to become a welder; Alex Munoz, a Legacy senior who is set to be an electrician; Cooper Waddell, a Legacy senior who is heading to Oklahoma State University to become a civil engineer; and Rowan Vilim (not able to attend), a Timberview senior who will go to work for FSG.
SkillsUSA started National Signing Day two years ago to bring awareness to the students heading into trades. Ben Barber Innovation Academy participated with three students signing commitments. Last year’s event was canceled, due to COVID.
Alvarez sees the day becoming as big as the athletic signing day.
“It’s not there yet, but I think it will be,” he said.
Schramme points out that students entering trades are vitally important.
“We’re trying to educate our community that we have programs that can help engage with our local industries,” he said.
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