KRA YouthWorks! Celebrates First Construction Academy Graduation

According to, “During and after the Great Recession—between 2007 and 2011—2 million workers left the construction industry, either retiring or finding more stable work in another industry” and a recent Associated General Contractors of America survey found that 63 percent of U.S. construction firms faced a shortage of skilled workers in the last year, with 30 percent forced to turn down work because of it.

One of the largest industry trade associations, the Home Builders Institute (HBI), is responding aggressively to this critical shortage with its award-winning PACT (Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training) program, customizing academic-skills learning with hands-on vocational-skills training to address the unique industry needs of local communities.

Kevin Thomas, 3rd from left, with 6 aspiring Apprentices

On September 4, 2018, in partnership with the HBI, YouthWorks! celebrated the opening of its Construction Academy with a final enrollment of 13 students.

Waiting to move into a workshop facility for hands-on training, Kevin Thomas, KRA Vocational Instructor, proceeded with the classroom curriculum, incorporating real-life scenarios into his presentations on OSHA Safety & First Aid, Tools of the Trade, Creating & Modifying Blueprints, Proper Lumber & Materials Measurements, and Employability.

To fulfill PACT’s hands-on requirements, community groups offered students various improvement and repair projects, one of which was renovating a clubhouse for a youth-recovery program, a truly rewarding experience for all who contributed to the effort.

On January 11, 2019, nine Academy students attended the graduation ceremony, along with well-wishing family members, staff, and local business-partners, one of whom, Duane Dwyer, owner of DLC, Inc., delivered an inspirational and motivating keynote address.

James LeBlanc, KRA Program Manager, concluded, “Two graduates have accepted job offers from Northern Craft Construction and Hope LLC; three are participating in ‘Earn & Learn’ programs, two with the United States Coast Guard Shipyard and one with JLC HVAC Services; and we anticipate successful placements for the other four by mid-March. We are very pleased with the results of the first PACT cycle, and excited about the Academy’s continued success!”


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