SWFL program prepares students for careers in a trade

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Dunbar High School students perform home inspection. Credit: WINK News.

A program in Southwest Florida helps high school seniors head into construction jobs instead of college.

“Everybody believes that college is always the way, and there are some programs like this that are awesome that help you,” said Nathaniel Diaz, a senior at Dunbar High School.

Eight Dunbar High School students plan to work after graduation. Thanks to the “Train to Gain” program, they’re getting firsthand experience in trades such as construction, roofing and plumbing.

The students inspected a city-owned house Thursday and picked out everything that needs to be fixed.

“You are learning math, geography, history,” said Mike Love, the director of the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center. “You are not learning how to enter the workforce, so we are filling that gap.”

“It is super important for students to actually get out onto a work site to see what it’s actually like to be in a career field,” said Kelly Thawley, a career specialist at The School District of Lee County. “This is just one of our pathways for students who may not be interested in post-secondary.”

It’s a win for students and local businesses that need workers badly.

“As construction continues to boom and accelerate, the lack of workers is really a problem,” said Bob Kramer, a project executive of Southwest Florida for Skanska. This is an option for them to immediately have a job in the summer, check out the construction industry, learn what type of money can be made in the construction industry and what type of career and future they could have.”

“Our students can get the training that they need here, and then, they can stay here so that we can retain our talent here in Southwest Florida,” Thawley said.

“Now, I’m thinking I’ll open my own business, a company,” said Jorge Amaya, a senior at Dunbar High School.

“I feel like it’s something that can enhance my career in the future,” Diaz said.

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