As the national building industry in Northern Nevada ramps up once again, Western Nevada Collegeâ€™s Construction Management and Construction Technology programs are shifting emphasis to meet the demand for skilled managers.
WNC Construction Management instructor Robert Ford said the collegeâ€™s Bachelor of Technology Degree program in Construction Management has expanded its focus on the business side of construction.
â€œOne of my goals is to place more emphasis on management, team-building and leadership,â€ he said. â€œIn four years, the students will be able to start their own business if they want to,â€ with a bachelorâ€™s degree in hand.
Ford has updated the programâ€™s curriculum and implemented an active industry advisory board, while adding estimating software and surveying equipment to the program. He has also established a Construction Academy geared toward bringing talented beginners into the field.
â€œWeâ€™re adopting a 21st-Century approach to the construction industry,â€ Ford said. â€œIn the two-year Associate Degree program, students learn the fundamentals of construction management. In the four-year Bachelorâ€™s Degree program, they apply those fundamentals to reality.
â€œTeam-building and team management are central to construction management,â€ Ford stressed. â€œThatâ€™s why weâ€™re are increasing the business emphasis of the program.â€
Becoming a competent construction manager requires being a creative thinker and a problem-solver, he said. â€œItâ€™s important to apply these traits because no job is the same.
â€œA lot of people get confused when they mention construction management,â€ Ford said. â€œThey say, â€˜I donâ€™t want to learn how to build a house,â€™ but they donâ€™t realize that many of these professionals are earning six figures each year to manage those skilled individuals.â€
A community advisory board that includes area construction industry leaders gives the curriculum focus and credibility, and assists students in finding their first job.
â€œLeaders in the industry are very involved with us,â€ Ford said. â€œThey know Iâ€™m not going to send them someone who doesnâ€™t have the ability or the potential.â€
Aaron West, executive director of the Builders Alliance,of Western Nevada, recognizes the importance of cultivating a skilled and educated construction workforce in Nevada.
â€œAs the stateâ€™s leader in construction industry advocacy and workforce development, the Builders Alliance recognizes that quality construction training and education programs are the important first step in developing a skilled workforce in Nevada,â€ West said. â€œWNC recognizes this and continues to develop innovative programming to meet the challenges of our industry.â€
West said that students can begin benefitting from their education before leaving WNC.
â€œThe construction industry provides many high-paying opportunities, with endless growth potential,â€ West said.
Salary data ranges for students who graduate with a Bachelor of Construction Technology degree in Nevada are from $66,050 to $110,910 per year.
A student who graduates with a WNC two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree in Construction Technology can earn in the range of $30,460 to $57,190 per year.
â€œThe programs offered at WNC allow for individuals to work in the industry and earn a wage while continuing their education and career development,â€ West said. â€œBy working with the Builders Alliance, WNC also provides students with real-world opportunities with regional employers.â€
By the end of WNCâ€™s 120-unit Construction Management program, students are expected to apply the fundamentals they have learned in construction management to the workplace. The program is management-focused to prepare students to become leaders at construction job sites.
â€œThe four-year program is also crucial for current project supervisors who donâ€™t have a degree,â€ Ford said. â€œAny major company is going to require their managers to have a degree because of the size and investment of the project.â€
By fall 2016, Ford plans to offer program courses both online and in the classroom, allowing those who have jobs the opportunity to increase their knowledge and earning power at their convenience. Six of the classes are already available online.
The new two-semester Ramsdell Go Pro Construction Academy will be led by WNC construction instructor Nigel Harrison. It will provide up to 30 individuals with the knowledge to make an entry-level start in construction. Students will also receive the added financial benefit of having class textbook expenses covered by the federal Carl Perkins Grant.
In two semesters, students can collect 18 college credits toward the two-year program, receive an Occupational Safety Councils of America card, earn three National Center for Construction Education and Research certifications, and an NCCER wallet card.
In addition, area high school seniors who are interested in a construction career may participate in the program through WNCâ€™s Jump Start College initiative.
â€œThe skills that students learn in two semesters at WNC are equivalent to what high students learn in three years,â€ Ford said.
The program begins with an introduction to the construction industry, followed by construction technology applications, including safety. After the two-semester academy, students will have the competency to be an introductory crew leader on a job site, Ford said.
â€œIf they wish to add to their academy education, they can proceed to the two-year program and earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. We offer a majority of classes in the evenings for the two-year and four-year programs,â€ Ford said.
â€œOur program is set up for convenience. We give students the option to go out there and go to work, and take our courses in the evening or online.
For more information, contact Ford at 775-445-3353. Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.