AHBL Supports Local High School Skilled Trades Program

There is no denying that hands-on experience is beneficial and invaluable to the learning process. That is why AHBL was thrilled to help and support the Pierce County Construction Trades Advisory Board when it decided to support the Construction Trades, Career Technical Education (CTE) program at Washington High School in Franklin Pierce School District.

Taking measurements Washington HSWashington High School, Tacoma, has offered a newly developed Skilled Trades course during the 2020-2021 school year for students. The goal of the Skilled Trades course is to tackle the need for skilled trades workers by preparing students for multiple career pathways to enter directly into the trade’s workforce, as an apprentice, and pursue technical credentials at community technical college, or a higher education pathway such as construction management.

The course utilizes the CORE PLUS curriculum which was developed by trade industry partners and is an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) approved framework of study. It is also vetted and sponsored by the Associated General Contractors. The high quality hands-on skilled trades pre-apprenticeship training course focuses on safety, CPR/First Aid, guest speakers/instructors from industry, tours of job sites, and skilled trades modules in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, concrete, and drywall. Students learn tool identification along with tool usage and math and science standards related to skilled trades. Additionally, the program provides the opportunity for students to earn OSHA 10 certification.

The Pierce County Construction Trades Advisory Board members have been a driving force in making the program a reality. Comprised of 20+ business industry leaders and lead by Chair John Ashworth, organizations like AHBL, Korsmo Construction, Absher Construction, AGC, Mountain Construction, Leonard Construction, Danard Electric, Larson Plumbing, At Your Service Plumbing, Construction Center of Excellence, have all contributed many hours and resources to building a new skilled trades facility at Washington High School.

Washington HS phase 1 site plan
Site plan generated by Erickson McGovern Architects. Awaiting permit approval for site development.

It was an early decision of the Pierce County Construction Trades Advisory Board that building an outdoor facility for students to practice and learn new skills would be necessary for the success of the program. The facility would allow them to build, construct, and learn electrical, plumbing, and carpentry in a hands-on capacity. It was the recommendation of the advisory board to have a fenced area and 100 x 100ft and a covered shelter to replicate outdoor working environments. The site design incorporates flexibility for the school district to utilize the area year-round.

AHBL engineers supported the project by utilizing existing topography mapping, developing a site plan, stormwater report, SWPPP for construction, permit drawings for site development, a pre-application, and submitting a permits request with Pierce County for the gravel fenced construction trades yard with 4,000 sf storage. Dannard Electric is adding electrical service to the site, and once the permit for site development is received, the fencing and gravel will be supplied Miles Sand & Gravel and installed by Leonard Construction. The first phase of construction is set to be completed before the 2021-2022 school year begins.

The opportunity to voluntarily provide these professional services to the school district is an important part of AHBL’s core values of being visible in our communities and seeking opportunities to actively contribute to our communities, creating a win-win for AHBL, the Student and School District. It also helps fill the greater need in the construction community which faces a technical trades skills gap.

AHBL has a long relationship with the Franklin Pierce School District which spans the design of five elementary schools and has included services such as civil, survey, and planning. The Franklin Pierce School District’s Director of Facilities, Robin Heinrichs, said this about working with AHBL, “They have proven numerous times the ability to offer cost effective and innovative solutions to problems in the design of civil projects. It’s nice to work with like-minded people in the community to find solutions to labor needs.”

Woman Making supports WHSThe inaugural Skilled Trades class of 2020-2021, was comprised of 26 students. Advisory Board Chair John Ashworth shared, “We are thrilled that this program has gained interest from students that reflect the diversity of the community. The first class is 50% female and 80% minority students.” A limited number of graduates will also have the opportunity through Bob Larson Plumbing to put their skills to work as summer hires, with the potential for permanent employment.

Past-president of AHBL, Doreen Gavin, remarks, “We support non-traditional education and encourage young men and women to support diversity in the trades. These workers are integral to the realization of the projects we work on. We value our relationship with Franklin Pierce School District and jumped at the opportunity to donate our services to design the plans and reports needed for the Washington High School Construction Yard.”

The Washington High School construction yard project currently has grant funds that will cover the placing of a gravel yard, perimeter fence, two storage containers, and providing electrical service to the yard. Business industry partners Leonard & Company. Miles Sand & Gravel, Randles Sand & Gravel, Absher Construction, Mountain Construction, Danard Electric, Korsmo Construction, along with AHBL have stepped up and provided in-kind donations or at cost materials and labor. The Pierce County Construction Trades Advisory Board is working on obtaining donations and in-kinds to cover future building costs.

If you or your firm would like to contribute to this project, contact Franklin Pierce Schools, College & Career Readiness Office at 253.298.3809.

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