HBA VTC Wins Workforce Leadership Award

The Greater Iowa City Area HBA’s Vocational Training Council (VTC) has been named a Corridor Business Journal 2021 Workforce Leader in the category of Most Effective Training for Existing Employment Needs (Small Company).

The honor is for two recently completed Architecture-Engineering-Construction (ACE) initiatives – five student-built sheds and a student remodel – aimed at giving high school students skilled-trades experience. Kirkwood Community College, the City of Iowa City and the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) collaborated with the VTC. The winning projects happened during schools’ 2021 spring semester/trimester.

The construction industry has a shortfall of 309,000 workers, according to the Home Builders Institute and the National Association of Home Builders. Sixty percent of builders report a worker shortage.  

“Developing the construction industry’s future workforce by introducing youth to and providing training in the skilled-trades is a key component to combatting this gap,” said Iowa City Area HBA President GT Karr of Sueppel’s Siding & Remodeling. “The sheds and remodel gave high school students a chance to convert classroom learning into real-life, hands-on work that translates into long-term, lifelong benefits to students and the home-building industry.  Such experience makes students desirable to hire and offers a rewarding, lucrative career choice, often without student-loan debt.”

Thirty-four high school students participated in the ACE Student-Built Sheds program. At ICCSD’s City and Liberty High Schools, the sheds were built on school grounds as part of Kirkwood’s dual-credit ACE Academy class called Construction Lab, and the schools’ industrial technology teachers became Kirkwood adjunct instructors. Kirkwood’s University of Iowa (Coralville) and Washington County Regional Centers included the sheds in their Intro to ACE courses, while Iowa City West High School’s shed was through its carpentry class. VTC members ran point for the shed builds; donated or discounted materials; and supported instructors.

The ACE Student Remodel involved 17 total City and Liberty High School students, also through the Kirkwood Construction Lab class. The City of Iowa City was the project sponsor and owns the remodeled duplex previously gutted by a fire. The two-hour daily course was divided into classroom learning and hands-on training. Participants received dual credit (high school and college).

Because of COVID, instead of watching the pros in person, students observed via photos and progress tutorial videos. VTC members demonstrated installing wiring, insulation, drywall, flooring and more and provided mentorship. Classes rotated working on the renovation with their primary instructor when professionals were gone. The remodel was on the 2021 Iowa City Area HBA Parade of Homes.

Workforce Leaders Awards will be presented during a breakfast Wednesday, Sept. 22 at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids. Registration ends Sept. 15.