Thomas Nelson Community College recently announced the opening of the Thomas Nelson Center for Building and Construction Trades at the Goodwill Retail Operations Center in Hampton, VA.
Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia (Richmond) partnered with the school to deliver workforce training that leads to employment in well-paying jobs for a portion of the Peninsula’s population that has historically been underemployed. Individuals in this population often lack a high school diploma or GED, literacy skills, work experience, security clearance, or access to educational funding. Workforce training students to be served by this partnership may include veterans, those with disabilities, unemployed, homeless, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
The school will offer short-term training to meet the expanding need for skilled workers in construction and building trades. Training at the center will take place in a space replicating the real worksites of apartment and building maintenance, HVAC, electrical systems, and weatherization technicians.
“This is partnership at its best. The Center for Building and Construction Trades is born out of Thomas Nelson and Goodwill’s understanding of the power of certifications in today’s economy,” stated Charles D. Layman, president and CEO of Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia. “The curriculum is top-notch, and the facility is designed for optimal learning.”
The center hosted a pilot, 160-hour, 14-week HVAC course for a cohort of five students during the spring. The successful pilot class graduated all five students who earned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 608 certification needed by contractors. The center will welcome a new cohort of HVAC students on September 22. Thomas Nelson instructors recently became certified trainers for the Housing & Building Institute’s Facilities Maintenance certification program. Training for apartment and facilities maintenance technicians will begin later this year.
The partnership between Thomas Nelson and Goodwill Industries will allow students to benefit from the expertise of both partners, including services in career counseling, job search, GED applied instruction, adult career coaching, workplace soft skills, on-the-job-training grants, and services for mental health, family counseling, alcohol, and drug rehabilitation.
Additional community partners contributed funding and grants to make the center a reality. Dominion Resources awarded a $25,000 Higher Education Partnership Grant to provide electrical upgrades to the facility. Bank of America provided a $10,000 grant for equipment and tools for student use. The Peninsula Housing & Builders Association invested $6,000 for the site license and curriculum for apartment and facilities maintenance, and the Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund awarded $32,352 to assist in equipping the facility.
The Center for Building and Construction Trades will also serve as one of two pilot project sites for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP Grant, awarded to the Commonwealth of Virginia, in partnership with the State Department of Social Services, and seven colleges of the Virginia Community College System. The $22 million grant, for the community colleges, social service agencies, and adult education programs in their regions, is the largest granted to any state.