The first of the coming graduation season took place last week at Skyview High School when the Kenai Peninsula Construction Academy graduated a class of Plumbers, Electricians, Welders, and Carpenters. Bob Hammer is the past president of the Alaska Home Builders Association, vice president of the Kenai Peninsula Builders Assoc. and one of the founders and instructors of the Kenai Peninsula Construction Academy (KPCA). According to Hammer the KPCA recruits, trains, and places young people and adults into construction industry jobs. Offering one component for high school students, and another for adult learners, all participants receive hands-on training by experts and members of the Kenai Peninsula Builders Association. "Labor market data shows that more than 1,000 construction workers are needed in Alaska each year for several years to meet construction job growth and to replace retiring workers. When a natural gas pipeline is built, thousands of additional construction workers will be needed," said Hammer.
Chelsea Kaas of Kenai signed up for the welding class and had high praises for the curriculum and instructors at the Academy, "It was a great class and we worked three nights a week and it has given me a great opportunity to get a job, I'm not certified yet, but I've got the basics down and I'm ready for a welder's helper position while I'm continuing my education," said Kaas. While the students were learning basic skills they were also producing a nice building, "It started out we were only going to build some walls for the plumbers and electricians to learn about running wire and copper in, but after we got started the students decided it would be a good idea to build something that could be utilized by the community when we were finished," explained Hammer. The class decided after doing some research to donate the structure to Friends of Athletes with Disabilities or F.A.D. Bob Gamble and Kelly Wolfe with FAD were on hand last Saturday to receive the keys for the sturdy storage shed. "We recently formed under the umbrella of Bridges for the purpose of assisting athletes in the local area with disabilities to be able to achieve their goals of competing in athletic events. We have a lot of gear like snow shoes, skies, and other supplies that we have to store in a rental storage unit and this is a wonderful opportunity to have our own shed and save us the rental costs we are now paying," said Wolfe.
In spring 2007, Governor Palin passed legislation that allowed funds for the development of Academies in Alaska Home Building Association communities. The Associated General Contractors of Alaska has formed the Alaska Construction Academy to continue working with the Construction Academies and to begin additional Academies. The purpose of the Academy is for agencies to combine resources to attract and train young people and adults in the local areas to first jobs in construction and trade apprenticeship programs.
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