Words: MASONRY Magazine
North Carolina hosted its Fourth Annual Masonry Education Day- the most popular one yet, this event saw an assembly of more high school students than ever before. This educational hands-on event was originally introduced in the fall of 2016 and since then has only continued to grow. The goal of Masonry Education Day is to stimulate the minds of interested high school students, while providing hands-on experience in the masonry and construction world.
29 high schools attended last year’s Masonry Education Day with 500 masonry students in attendance, which is the largest school presence they have had yet. As the buses rolled into the private park, Ryan Shaver, NCMCA’s Workforce Development and Training Coordinator, and Kent Huntley, President of NCMCA greeted them. Shaver and Huntley gave the students an overview of the day’s events and introduced them to their respective mason contractor partner for the day. Each student was tasked with the job of getting to know the mason contractor and knowing his or her name and the company they represented by the end of the day.
Shaver’s hopes for the event were to not only shed light on the vast opportunities that are afforded to the new generations of masons, but to start building those relationships with the mason contractors in North Carolina for the Pre-Apprentice Program in the summer of 2020. By matching a mason contractor with a high school group, each mason could answer questions as needed, and give real-life experiences during the tutorials throughout the day.
All the students in attendance are enrolled in masonry programs in his or her respective high school.
“We’re targeting the students already enrolled in masonry, we’re trying to get them excited about the industry and show them the opportunities that the masonry industry has to offer,” Shaver enthusiastically states. “Our primary goal is to get these kids jacked up to come out and work with us!”
There were three groups of tutorials set up, with the first group being masonry equipment, another focusing on masonry products, and the last featuring masonry equipment and tools. Within each group, there was a vendor set up and they ran a short tutorial on their products. Students rotated in-between the three tutorials. “ Each mason contractor was assigned to a group of anywhere from 15-20 students, and it was their responsibility to rotate those students through the tutorials, answer any questions, make sure they got their lunch on time,” explains Shaver.
He credits teamwork and collaboration for the success of this event over the years, as “it is a concerted effort from our whole industry in North Carolina, we have people from all across the state come and help out.” He thanked Stalite for providing the park and supporting this event every year, as well as the other sponsors who helped to bring the event to life. Companies such as iQ Power Tools, STIHL, SPEC MIX, Hilti, Johnson Concrete products, Superior Crane, Caterpillar, FORD, and Roxor were just a few who came out and provided tutorials for the masonry students in attendance.
Every year, Ryan Shaver sets a goal for the following year. 2019 was no different, and last year’s attendance goal was 600 students. Coming within 100 students of his goal is still a success for Shaver, as there were a few schools that couldn’t make it at the last minute, and he still had the opportunity to get 500 students excited about the masonry industry.
The SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® Regional competition in North Carolina took place during the Masonry Education Day. The masonry students were able to cheer on the competitors and had the opportunity to compete themselves in the JR. SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500TMC. “We had teams of two from each high school compete on the smaller-scale version of SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500®,” Shaver explains. Each team had 20 minutes to compete to see how many bricks they could lay in that time.
The grading was slightly different as the time was half cut in comparison to the official competition run by SPEC MIX. “We deducted two bricks instead of 25 like they do in Las Vegas,” Shaver continues. “Since there was a reduced time, the teams were deducted two bricks off their final count for each penalty.” The teams were signed up on a first-come, first-serve basis, and 10 high schools were represented in the competition.
The official judges of the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500® helped to judge the competition as well. Three televisions were given away at the event as well-two were prizes for students, and the last one went home with one of the masonry instructors in attendance that day.
Following this event, Ryan Shaver follows up with each school to further explain how the Pre- Apprenticeship Program works and how each respective school can partner up with a mason contractor for the summer. If you missed our article on the Pre-Apprenticeship Program and those details, be sure to look for it on MASONRY’s website or in the December 2018 issue.
The Pre-Apprenticeship Program was created with the intention and mission to increase the workforce in North Carolina by engaging high school students early on in their education. This program affords 16-year-old students the opportunity to work at a masonry company performing various tasks and laying brick.
The plans for 2020 are very similar to previous years: growing the number of schools and students in attendance, providing more space for the JR. SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500TMC, altering the tutorial set up and providing fresh new industry companies for the students to see. “We’re excited to get it going again!” Shaver shares.
When it comes to workforce development initiatives, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. In order to breathe into life into a centuries-old industry and incentivize young professionals to join the trades, it takes concentrated efforts like that of Shaver that are consistent and genuine. Without dedicated masonry professionals like him, who knows what the state of workforce development efforts in North Carolina would be like? Thankfully, he’s not going anywhere any time soon, and we’ll be back to chat with him about his efforts soon!