Home Builders Institute opens new training center in Orlando

The Home Builders Institute has opened its new Orlando-based center to train people for construction jobs. The BuildStrong Academy of Orlando will train and place local students who wish to pursue careers in skilled trades in the construction industry. Funded by The Home Depot Foundation, along with other partners from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, the program will be free to interns.

Officials expect the training center to welcome around 500 new trainees by the end of 2022. The BuildStrong Academy of Orlando training program guides participants through a step-by-step process designed to move them from beginners, with little or no trading skills, to traders. Instructors will use the HBI program, which is one of three pre-apprenticeship programs recognized by the US Department of Labor.

For more than 50 years, HBI has conducted programs across the United States, training approximately 10,000 students each year through a variety of specialty programs. Officials at the Washington, DC-based nonprofit said they are taking a new approach in Orlando by running a facility that teaches students multiple construction trades under one roof.

“As construction job opportunities increase and people rethink their careers, the time demands that we take an inventive approach to creating the skilled workers the building industry so badly needs,” said Ed Brady, President and CEO of HBI, at a grand opening ceremony. “Students of the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando will be exposed to the full range of their opportunities in the construction trades.”

Each month this year, the construction industry lacks an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 skilled workers, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ analysis of data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet only a small percentage of young adults pursue a career in construction, Brady says.

“This is an opportunity for new hires to the industry to gain entry level and receive hands-on training and placement in well-paying jobs,” he says.

“We are excited to launch this academic program in Orlando and provide career opportunities in the region, in partnership with HBI,” said Shannon Gerber, Executive Director of The Home Depot Foundation. “This program helps further our goal of supporting the next generation of tradespeople while diversifying the industry.

In addition to the Home Depot Foundation, the BuildStrong Academy in Orlando is funded by the Charles Koch Institute; West Fraser, a diversified wood products company based in Vancouver, Canada, and; CareerSource Central Florida, the Florida State Workforce Development Agency.

Ahead of the grand opening, the center trained its first class of students who graduated earlier this month. In June, they began a two-week orientation session called the “Residential Introductory Series”. Upon completion, they moved on to four weeks of vocational training which culminated in industry-recognized certification as a pre-apprentice. If desired, students could then enroll in a six-week program to train in carpentry techniques.

“Orlando’s new BuildStrong Academy opens up the world of great construction jobs and careers for anyone who wants to work hard and be part of a great industry,” said Chuck Fowke, president of the NAHB.

For more information on the BuildStrong Academy of Orlando and how to apply, visit OrlandoAcademy.hbi.org or email: [email protected]


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Milton S. Rodgers

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