Shelby County Schools, Alabama Home Builders Offer Free Basic Construction Course

COLUMBIANA, Alabama — Shelby County School District is partnering with the Home Builders Association of Alabama to offer a free basic carpentry certificate program for adults that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in October and November.

The eight-week course at the Shelby County College and Career Center, formerly called the School of Technology, in Columbiana offers space for 15 adult students. Preference will be given to Shelby County residents.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” said Rene Day, coordinator of career and technical education, college and career planning and community partnerships for the Shelby County Board of Education. “Our students will be able to walk away with that certificate, but this also helps people who are displaced workers or underemployed workers or unemployed workers.”

The Home Builders Association of Alabama reports on its website that June statewide housing starts increased by 5.9 percent from the same time in 2012 and showed a 1.1 percent increase from May. Statewide

building permits were up 1.3 percent in June compared to the prior month, but 8.6 percent ahead of June 2012.

“The goal of this is to better train and get skilled workers out to the construction industry so that we have more qualified people and they are working on the construction site in a safe and constructive way,” Alabama Home Builders Foundation President Cathy Brown of Montgomery said in a phone interview today.

“And because of the fact that homebuilding is now back on the upturn, we’re seeing a real need for skilled laborers out there, whether it be framers or electricians or all of those skills. We need to be sure we’re ready with that type of labor force so we can continue to build the homebuilding business,” Brown said.

The evening course will be open to adults “who want to learn about basic construction so they can get the basic certificate and they can be ready to work,” Day said, adding that other Shelby County students can take the course during the day at the College and Career Center.

“The curriculum is being developed so the students have the opportunity to take that in their classes at the College and Career Center and adults are taking advantage of it in the evening program,” she said.

The class offers information about basic construction site layout and reading blueprints, floor and wall framing, roof and ceiling framing, cutting rafters, window and door installations, siding, interior and exterior trim and stairs.

The evening class runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Oct. 1 through Nov. 19. The Home Builders Association of Alabama is underwriting the course.

“Other than a few tools they have to provide, there will be no cost” to the students, Day said.

Anyone interested in the course should contact Day at or at 682-5253.


Tom Edwards, construction technology instructor at the College and Career Center, emphasized the need for skilled workers in the construction industry. “This opportunity is a way to get the basics of residential carpentry out to people who are interested in pursuing a career in construction or just want to know more so they can work on their own homes,” he said.

“I believe it will be a successful pilot program that will keep lifelong learners engaged in hands-on, real-world concepts of how to apply a good work ethic to an actual structure that you can touch. And there is also the fact that if you build something with your own two hands you take ownership and pride in your work, and that’s something no one can take away,” Edwards said.

Brown said the program, which is not unique for the organization, is important because it helps to provide a skilled workforce.

“Part of the Home Builders Association is to make sure that industry stays healthy and to work toward any type or programs or policies to make that industry healthy,” she said. “For us to be able to underwrite their costs, there’s a lot of good, talented people out there who unfortunately don’t have the money to pay to get those skills themselves.”


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