ACE Mentor Program hosts inaugural Trades Day in Jacksonville

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ACE Mentor Program of Northeast Florida has held its inaugural Trades Day to introduce high school students to a variety of construction trades through demonstrations and hands-on activities with local firms.

The Feb. 24 event at American Electrical Contracting, was designed to educate students about the immediate trade job opportunities within the industry in Northeast Florida.

Although contractors are increasingly busy and are eager to hire more workers, low rate of unemployment and record job openings in construction show how difficult it is bringing enough workers on board.

Auld White_Orange Park HSThe event included demonstrations from 20 construction organizations that support the mentorship initiative, including carpentry contractor B3 Millwork, electrical contractor American Electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors Campbell Plumbing & Mechanical, MetroPower Plumbing and W.W. Gay, sprinkler contracting firm Cox Fire Protection, design-build contractor Haskell, general contractor Auld and White, framing and drywall firm JE Abercombie, and roofing firm Reliant Roofing. Apprenticeship programs represented included: Electrical Training Alliance, Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA), First Coast Technical College, Tulsa Welding School, American Electrical Academy, and Plumbing, Pipefitters and HVAC Association UA Local 234.

MetroPower_Nease HSOther organizations and supporters included masonry organizations Florida Concrete Products Association, Florida Masonry Apprenticeship Education Foundation and Masonry Association of Florida, workforce development nonprofit iBuild, National Black Women in Construction (NABWIC), and FastSigns.

“Skilled tradespeople are the backbone of the construction industry, and many of our students simply aren’t aware of the vast job opportunities, which pay well and offer long-term career growth,” Nicole Eubanks, affiliate director of ACE Mentor Program of Northeast Florida, said in a statement.

“With rising construction activity in Florida and tight labor market conditions, it’s vital that we take additional steps to recruit and train tomorrow’s workers.”

Founded in 2007, the ACE Mentor Program of Northeast Florida is an after-school program for high school students interested in exploring careers in architecture, construction and engineering.

American Electrical_Middleburg HSThe program currently serves more than 200 students from Clay, Duval and St. Johns Counties at the following locations: Middleburg High School, Orange Park High School, Atlantic Coast High School, Bishop Kenny High School, Home School Team, Riverside High School, Bartram Trail High School, Creekside High School, Nease High School, and Pedro Menendez High School.

Through office tours, college visits, hands-on activities and site visits, the program introduces students to the industry’s various disciplines. Under the mentorship of more than 80 local industry professionals, students work in teams on projects that simulate real-life situations. ACE Mentor Program of Northeast Florida also provides scholarships to participating students to continue their education within the industry.

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