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Palm Beach State College helping fill workforce demand for construction workers

Posted at 6:45 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-09 06:13:06-05

At Palm Beach State College you'll find a new generation of students crafting an old trade.

Dr. Jean Wihbey is the Vice President of Workforce Development a new title to meet a growing industry demand.

"Construction industry is looking for ways to get people on the job trained very quickly," she said.

An annual survey taken this year revealed that 79 percent of construction employers in Florida say they are having a hard time filling skilled trade positions. 

"Different industries come to us looking for different skill sets," Dr. Wihbey said.

One, in particular, electrical work.

"This week alone I've have four contractors call me asking me when these guys are graduating,"  Joshua Colvin said.

Colvin is an instructor at the school. He says he remembers a time when the calls weren't coming in.

"Back around 2008 the market crashed and it was booming really big and then all of a sudden there was no work," he recalled. "So you went from working 80 hours a week to 40 to 20 and then there was no work what so ever."

So like many, he gave up on the job he had worked his entire life. Starting over as a guard in a prison and eventually, he found a way to use his skill again.

"Luckily I was able to find my way into teaching," he said. 

Now he's helping others find their way to a career.

"It's pretty neat to see, I like it," Colvin said. 

In the spring the school plans to take it one step further and launch a work tech program where students can work in their field while also earning college credit.