October is Careers in Construction Month, a national campaign to increase awareness of construction careers, to inspire the next generation of craft professional and make an impact on the perceptions of a career in construction. Careers start with education; this does not mean college. Regardless of the path you take, you need to know how to do what you’re expected to do. An exciting part about a career in construction is there are so many available in any trade and the education is free, at least for Southern Air apprentices.
Continued education is so valuable, Southern Air dedicates a significant amount of resources to train the next generation of tradespeople through apprenticeships. The value of apprenticeships can easily outweigh those in college for the right people. Tradespeople are living very successful and comfortable lifestyles as welders, designers, electricians, pipefitters, estimators, service technicians, the list is endless! Success is attainable without a four year college degree or the student loan debt that comes along for the ride. The amount of debt accrued from a four-year apprenticeship at Southern Air is $0.00.
“With a trade, it’s just as important to have the education and just as important to study as it is if you’re going for a 4-year college degree,” says Gary Gilliam, Southern Air Wheels of Learning HVAC apprenticeship instructor. “It’s of the utmost importance to give opportunities for people to learn and develop in the trades and construction industry because it’s perpetual. Buildings get old, they need to be replaced or refurbished, equipment runs its lifecycle and has to be replaced. Not only do you have to replace the HVAC equipment, you have to replace it with new and more efficient technology that’s going to save energy. All that requires education.”
Gilliam is one of several instructors teaching Southern Air Wheels of Learning apprenticeship this semester. Southern Air teaches apprenticeships in HVAC, electrical, plumbing, sheet metal and welding. Instead of a degree, apprentices earn their journeyman’s card; a nationally recognized certification. A journeyman’s certification all but guarantees someone a career as the need for skilled labor is critical nationwide. Success isn’t about a college degree; it’s about living a comfortable lifestyle without debt. Apprenticeships provide exactly that.
“Construction and Service; HVAC, electrical and plumbing; it’s not going anywhere! When you get someone interested in an apprenticeship, it’s well worth the time to invest in them, teach them a trade. It’s a huge value,” Gilliam says. “Right now, every employer in the construction industry needs more employees. They need more skilled employees than what they currently have.”