Why student/apprentice competitions are important to the industry

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ncmca students
Masonry students at work. Images from North Carolina Masonry News.

The following article by Lynn Nash, executive vice-president of the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association (NCMCA), originally published in the association’s newsletter, explains the importance of getting involved in student and apprentice competitions. It has relevance to industry leaders in all of the construction trades. Connections between industry and educational institutions (and the instructors and students) are important in attracting and ensuring the trades’ futures.

This spring, hundreds of North Carolina students and apprentices participated in masonry competitions across the state. It should be our goal that these contests prove to be an affirmative masonry experience for every one of the participants and for their teachers and parents. I think that’s been accomplished.

I was privileged to attend most of the events. I met a lot of outstanding and capable young people who left me encouraged about what’s ahead for masonry and feeling good about the future in general.

All of us should seek opportunities to become involved in vocational and apprentice training. Participate in the contests. (Donate to cover the expense of the contests!) Visit the schools. Get to know your local masonry instructors and make sure the students know about you and your company.

Our North Carolina school masonry programs are strongest where there are local masonry contractors who make it their business to be involved. There is a direct correlation between successful training programs and strong participation from the local masonry community.

Be an advocate for masonry training. Get to know school decision makers including school principals, county career and technical training coordinators, school superintendents and school board members.

Help recruit young people and encourage them to consider vocational classes. Show them a masonry career path. Talk to parents. As an advocate for masonry training, you are serving the entire masonry industry, but you’ll also find yourself getting “first-round draft picks” for
the best young talent in the school programs. The teachers know who they are and will share that information “with their friends.”

We’ve enjoyed a spring full of great masonry competitions that have showcased masonry in
a positive way. There are lots of individuals and companies to thank for making that happen, but I won’t attempt to cite the list. Too many! However our 2017 Apprenticeship and Training Committee chairman, NCMCA president-elect Kent Huntley, certainly gets a nod for taking his assignment very seriously. He was anywhere and everywhere this spring, usually passing out judges’ score sheets, checking the numbers and keeping up with his step gauges. Kent understands and will help all of us to remember the importance of always recruiting and encouraging young people. That’s our future.

Clichéd but absolutely true.

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