MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
With a booming real estate market and a shortage of skilled construction workers along the South Carolina coast, Horry-Georgetown Technical College is starting special programs to meet the demand.
The college began a five-semester construction management program last fall. And it hopes to create a two- to four-week program to teach students skills such as masonry, carpentry and tile installation.
The construction management program will mean builders may not have to look outside the area for such workers.
“This is our response to the local economy,” said Orlando Arteaga, an associate professor of construction management.
Economist Al Parish of Charleston Southern University said there is a shortage of skilled construction workers along the coast.
“Everybody’s busy right now and that tends to lead to less training,” said Berkley White, president of Horry-Georgetown Home Builders Association. “There just aren’t enough skilled people out there.”
The construction management program includes conversational Spanish, basic technical drawing and a 10-week internship with a builder. Thirty students are now enrolled.
Construction managers must know how to schedule jobs, talk with workers and customers and how to read blueprints, said Mike Wyatt, president of the Myrtle Beach division of Centex Homes.
“We have a lot of people who want to change jobs from the textile industry, or they’re in a job they dislike, but they really don’t have the construction background,” he said.
Field managers at Centex can make $35,000 to $85,000, Wyatt said.
“When we were showing the college these salaries, I think it was intriguing to them because these are much higher than the median range for Horry County,” he said.
The construction industry also needs skilled labor.
“You can find plenty of people who can do manual labor, but when it gets down to craftsmanship, those people become harder to find,” said Lawrence Langdale, a past president of the Horry Georgetown Homebuilders Association.
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