Carpenter’s Daughter Apprenticeship Programs (CDAP) of Pine Bluff and Power UP Inc. of Hoover, Ala., conducted the Site to See: Hard Hat Tours workshop May 6. The event allowed female students to explore careers in construction, according to a news release.

Held at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Business Support Incubator, the seminar was developed to educate and engage 10th-12th grade females, according to the release.

The students, career coaches and counselors were from Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff, Dumas New Tech High School at Dumas, Lakeside High School at Lake Village, and TOPPS Inc. Green Girls Apprenticeship Program at Pine Bluff.

The participants joined in team building sessions, met guest speakers and had the opportunity to tour active construction sites. These included the new Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library/East Harding Construction, and the new Pine Bluff Aquatics Center/CDI Contractors.

The students were able to hear and discuss opportunities around different educational pathways into construction related skilled trades.

“East Harding Construction did an outstanding job of engaging the students and helping them understand the range of diversification for construction-related occupations from the construction craft laborer to upper level management,” according to the release. “Students watched as two beams were erected and placed at the site. The highlight for the Watson Chapel High School students was being allowed to write their names on a beam that was being erected and have their signatures be a permanent mark on a piece of Jefferson County’s history.”

Alexis Toney, a Watson Chapel 10th grader participating in the first tour, asked how much money the project managers make.

“After stumbling with the question, East Harding’s project manager, Shawn Carroll, ensured her that some beginning salaries are in the $30,000 a year range but, she could easily climb the ladder to a six-figure salary, if she worked hard and continued her education,” according to the release.

The second tour at Pine Bluff Aquatics Center was guided by Jill Floyd, project manager; Garrett Strickland, superintendent; and T.R. Santos, City of Pine Bluff Aquatics Center director.

“Jill, a minority female project manager at CDI represents the small demographic of the 9 percent of women in construction related trades. The students and counselors were excited to see the state-of-the-art construction inside the facility,” according to the release.

Bill Roachell, president of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) - Little Rock Chapter, stated that ABC was working to build more apprenticeships in the Southern regions of Arkansas.

Verna Perry, chief executive officer of Carpenter’s Daughter, agreed with Roachell and highlighted that building apprenticeship programs takes a lot of grassroots work by educating employers and communities about the benefits that apprenticeships offer.

“The presenting partners, CDAP and Power UP, plan to host other events to ensure the youth and diverse workforce are exposed to the opportunities that exist in the construction industry as the south becomes an attractive location for new development in both commercial and residential construction,” according to the release.

Perry, who is from the rural south, realizes that unless youth are exposed to the opportunities that exist outside their communities, they will never be able to improve the living conditions that exist within their community.

Workshop presenters and sponsors included:

Carpenter’s Daughter Apprenticeship Programs — Verna Perry, founder and CEO; Power UP Inc. — Mittie D. Cannon, founder, and Rachel Roque, executive director; Arkansas Department of Career Education – Pine Bluff; Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Little Rock Chapter — Bill Roachell, president; Women in Construction (NAWIC) Little Rock Chapter – Hilda Cox; The Generator: GoFoward Pine Bluff — Mildred Franco; East Harding Construction, CDI Contractors and City of Pine Bluff.

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