YUHSD Construction Students Eligible For National Certification

The Construction Technologies program was recently highlighted at a Yuma Union High School District governing board meeting Wednesday.

Through a partnership with Arizona Western College, students in the district have the opportunity to take a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) course and receive dual enrollment credit while in the high school program. Also, they get to take the $125-course at no cost, aside from book fees, thanks to the sponsorship of the Yuma branch of Goodwill Arizona.

Larry Lebsock, AWC director of Early College Experience, explained that students can earn the nationally-recognized NCCER certification during the course that gives them an advantage over others looking for a career in construction after graduation. The certification is based on research from business and industry on what competencies an individual would need in order to get gainful employment in the construction field, he said.

Offered at Yuma, San Luis and Kofa high schools; the certification process allows students’ future employers to see what they scored on each module of the class and it also highlights students’ individual skill sets within the field of construction.

While reporting to the board, Lebsock said, “In order to make all of this happen, your instructors have had to go through a training process so that they know how to operate under the NCCER rules and regulations. Teachers went ‘above and beyond the call of duty,’” he said, and underwent 24 hours of extra training in order to be qualified to provide NCCER instruction.

In the future, he said he’s hoping that students will have the opportunity to then continue on to an Industrial Maintenance course after completing the NCCER class. Of the nearly 75 students in the district’s construction classes, he estimated that they will only have about 15 spots available for the Industrial Maintenance class.

“It’s a sequenced process that is helping the students and when they leave the program they’ll have something that’s recognized by business and industry. And in education now, business and industry are looking for industry recognized standards. They want someone other than the school to says that (the students) have these skills.”

Brad Graham, construction technology instructor at Kofa High School, said that he first began looking into the NCCER certification after noticing that it was the standard for the state and national SkillsUSA competitions that district students compete in. He added that YUHSD started offering students the NCCER certification course in 2013.

Josh Gallardo, a student in the program at Kofa, said that he and his classmates were hesitant when they learned about the additional certification they would have to earn before graduation. “At first we were like, ‘Oh great, more tests,’ but we didn’t know what opportunity we were getting when we started taking the test and studying. I think it’s great our teacher is pushing us and even though we whine, he’s pushing us and I think it’s great.”

Fellow classmate Manuel Haro agreed and added, “I for one think it’s a great opportunity, because it opens up doors in the future and it puts you a step ahead of the next guy you’re competing against for a job.”