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Technology center builds careers in construction

September 19, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

An extreme shortage of trained tradesmen in Washington County led Associated Builders and Contractors to take extreme steps a year ago, creating the Cumberland Valley Technology Center.

The unique, state-of-the-art school is located on the ABC "campus" at 319 W. Howard St.

"This is training for jobs that have opportunities for advancement and good pay," said Joan Warner, ABC executive director.

Warner said studies show that 20 out of 100 trained tradesmen will someday own their own businesses - a claim few other professions can make.

Some companies even pay for their employees to take the courses, Warner said. And there are scholarships available.

To enroll, applicants must be at least 16 years old - high school age or older, Warner said. There are day and night classes.

The cost is $800 for ABC members and $1,000 for non-members.

"Anyone can come here," Warner said. "Not only are we doing construction trades, we are also offering maintenance training, too."

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There is continuing education, management education, professional development and safety training.

The center's purpose is simple, Warner said. Its goal is to provide the construction and maintenance industries with the most qualified and technically knowledgeable people at all levels.

No computer knowledge is necessary as that is part of the training, Warner said.

"I'm now a certified master trainer," Warner said. "That means I'm the one who teaches the teachers."

Part of the financial support of the center comes from professionals in the construction industry who benefit most from the availability of trained tradesmen to work in the field.

Courses being taught this semester deal with topics such as trenching and excavating, electrical basics, power tools, flaggers certification, blueprint reading, construction contracts and Maryland construction statutes, to name a few.

"The students take a written exam and if they pass, they take a practical test," Warner said.

When they finish the program, they have jobs waiting, Warner said.

"We have more jobs than we can fill," she said.

Graduates get a computerized college transcript that they can take anywhere, and their names and qualifications are put into a national computer base.

ABC, a national trade association, represents 19,000 general contractors and is dedicated to defending and promoting the open shop construction industry.

For more information on the Cumberland Valley Technology Center, call 301-739-1190.

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