The Guam Contractors Association is turning 60 this year, and I am excited to be in this position and at this moment in time in GCA’s history as its chairwoman, with many events planned to commemorate this remarkable milestone. I’m extremely excited for our members.
This year, we are bringing in a new program that fits GCA’s initiative to build a sustainable local work force with emphasis on recruiting more women in our industry. In the past we’ve had programs like Pizza, Pop & Power Tools and Construction Warriors. These were exploratory career events where students from middle and high school got hands-on experience with operating tools and equipment in the construction trades. Pizza, Pop & Power Tools was first launched eight years ago and was intended to give young ladies in middle and high school the opportunity to do hands-on activities with the tools and equipment of the construction trades. Imagine a 13-year old girl sitting behind the controls of a backhoe and operating it. Or having a young girl install a faucet and fixtures on a sink or build a multipurpose toolbox, bending conduit or wiring electrical connections. These young ladies were doing all this and without the pressure of having boys around. But we didn’t leave the guys behind, in fact we created a similar event where both boys and girls can participate. We called this event Construction Warriors. In November, we will be bringing to Guam a motivational speaker, former TV host for DIY Network’s “Rescue Renovation” and social media host for various conferences like World of Concrete and Steel Erectors Association Conference. She is also a contractor and professional woodworker and does Public Service Announcements for Skills USA, NCCER and Build Your Future. Her name is Kayleen McCabe and you’ll be hearing more about her in the coming months and as we get closer to her arrival in Guam. Be sure to like and follow our Facebook to stay updated. Additionally, she will be our keynote speaker at Pizza, Pop & Power Tools and Construction Warriors as well as our Annual Excellence in Construction Awards and Contractor of the Year Awards. We are also planning a general assembly for all students from elementary on up to high school to hear McCabe talk of her journey as a female carpenter and how she’s a strong supporter for women who want to pursue careers in the construction trades.
In March 2020, GCA is also launching a new program called “Power Up; It’s a Mother Daughter Thing.” It’s a national program created by Mittie Cannon of Birmingham, Alabama to educate girls and their mothers on pathways to the industry, engage girls and their mothers through one-on-one dialogue with women and employers in the construction industry and explore construction trades through hands-on activities that reflect real world scenarios. Cannon was herself in the industry before going full-time with her Power Up organization. She will be on Guam in March 2020 for our inaugural event.
With programs like Construction Warriors, Pizza, Pop & Power Tools and now Power Up; It’s a Mother Daughter Thing, GCA continues to provide a venue for career exploration with hands-on activities to showcase careers and generate interest in the trades. There’s no better way to share what we do than a “hands on” experience, touching and operating some of the tools and equipment we use every day in our industry. It is our hope that we can develop a local skilled workforce through education and programs like those mentioned to reduce our reliance on imported skilled labor. We will never eliminate the need for foreign workers, but we can recruit and train local workers and give them the skills to allow for a sustainable workforce during and after the construction boom. Moreover, a new and aggressive marketing plan is currently in the works that will enable GCA to create an image campaign to attract high school students and also to recruit and hire more women in our industry. The industry really needs to step up to the plate and do more outreach in the schools and the general community. With local and federal funding opportunities to pay for training in the trades, we need to make construction sexy again and build up that workforce. Construction is not just about swinging a hammer and digging ditches, it requires technical training and skill and a strong background in math and reading.
The GCA Trades Academy offers national industry-recognized credentials utilizing National Center for Construction Education and Research curriculum and certification. NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curriculum and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s Registry System that allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. NCCER’s Registry System also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database. Because of this portability, our professional craftspeople can take their credentials anywhere in the United States. NCCER credentials is the construction industry’s version of a college degree.
The GCA Trades Academy acquired two warehouses in Tiyan earlier this year. They are currently undergoing renovation design and construction to house office spaces for the GCA Trades Academy administration office, the Guam Contractors Association, The Employers Council and other organizations interested in leasing office space. Plans include provisions for 16 classrooms and a huge shop area for carpentry, electrical, welding, HVAC and other trades labs. According to Herbert “Bert” Johnston Jr., education director of the GCA Trades Academy, the facility should be occupied by March 2020, in time for the launching of Power Up; It’s a Mother Daughter Thing. We are all anxious for the opening of this new facility.