Because of a shortage of skilled labor in the Pine Belt area, the Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association makes it part of their mission to give a boost to that field in any way possible.
So when officials from that organization discovered that Petal High School’s vocational educational program was in need of a planer – a woodworking tool that trims boards to a consistent thickness – they decided to help in that endeavor in the form of a $600 check to cover the cost of the tool.
The check was presented to Weston Hill, construction technology instructor at the high school, during a ceremony last week at the Hattiesburg Country Club on Classic Drive.
“As a home builders association, we work with vo-tech centers around the area, and anybody in technical education, to help further their endeavors to promote a skilled workforce in the construction industry,” said Danielle Jordan, immediate past president of the Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association. “We have a lack of skilled labor, so it’s part of our responsibility to help further that industry.
“We do have a fund that helps to provide schools with their needs, so if they have a need they reach out, and we put it before the board to meet that need. (Petal) needed a planer for their construction education program, so we were luckily able to provide that.”
Hill said over the last several years, he and his students have discussed the need for certain tools – and have even watched informational videos on those tools – but haven’t always had the funds to purchase needed items for the class.
“So at this point, we get to buy that specific tool, and this just gives all students another facet to put in their hat,” he said. “So when they get into construction, they’re able to use that tool and get familiar with that tool, and be comfortable using that tool. That just helps them out in the future.”
The Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association was chartered in December 1962 by the National Home Builders Association.
The organization also is affiliated with the Home Building Association of Mississippi, which represents the interests of more than 2,000 builders across the state.
Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association members represent approximately 9,000 employees in the counties represented by the association: Forrest, Lamar, Perry and Marion.
The funds that are used for items such as Petal High School’s planer were previously part of a scholarship program, but officials decided that it would be better used to help with more specific needs within the education system and vo-tech programs.
“We found that we got more response out of that,” Jordan said. “And also, with the scholarships, you don’t always know if the students are going to stay in the industry. So by helping the program directly, we find that it helps students’ interest more.”