Drake State partners with free Homebuilding Academy to offer college credit, chip away at trade workforce deficit

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala – The North Alabama Homebuilding Academy (NAHA) has been around for over a year and has helped roughly 100 previously unskilled workers find careers. Many students came from high poverty communities. Now, thanks to a partnership with Drake State Community & Technical College, academy students can turn skills into certificates.

“They can specialize because they are getting general training here (NAHA). Many of the individuals want to specialize and eventually may want to go on and own their own businesses,” said Dr. Patricia Sims, the president of Drake State Community & Technical College.

NAHA was formed by the Huntsville-Madison County Builders Association stemming from a serious need for skilled trade workers. The demand for new homes across North Alabama is very high as available inventory remains at record lows. With countless jobs coming and upwards of 50,000 people expected to move to Huntsville in a matter of years, the pressure is on.

Barry Oxley, the Executive Officer for the Huntsville-Madison County Builders Association says companies are already ready to hire the next batch of graduates from NAHA.

“Then I talk to their employers and say how’s our graduates doing? They say they are unbelievable. They are doing a great job. I’ve already given so and so a raise or two over the last year,” said Oxley of the feedback he’s been given.

The 8-week program isn’t just about getting general construction skills. NAHA brings in math tutors as well as resume coaches.

“Every graduate has to write a resume. We get those resumes and our recruiter here at the school goes through them and gives them tips,” said Oxley.

With the new partnership between NAHA and Drake State, if academy students are not meeting admission requirements to advance their education through Drake State, the community college says their Continuing Education program will help academy students become eligible for admission.

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