In response to the devastation of the 2005 hurricane season and the shortage in the skilled construction workforce, several new training programs have been established to build the workforce in the Gulf Coast area of the US. Safety continues to be the integral part of all these programs, and statistics show that the most proactive measure in avoiding accidents and injuries is through the use of trained and skilled craft professionals.

One such innovative program in the forefront of construction training programs is the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Initiative. Launched by the Business Roundtable, this initiative was developed to recruit and train up to 20,000 new craft professionals by the end of 2009. A recruitment campaign titled GREAT: Gulf Rebuild Education, Advancement and Training was launched in August 2006. The campaign targeted the cities of Baton Rouge, LA., and Jackson, MS, through billboards, radio spots, web site and print advertising. By the end of 2006, more than 2,100 participants received training and an additional 1,163 participants were enrolled in training for 2007.

Eligible participants enroll in entry-level skills courses, preparing them for employment in the construction industry. These courses include a comprehensive overview of the work site and the various trades involved in major construction projects. They also focus on safety best practices for some of the most common and hazardous job site situations, and training meets OSHA 10-hour safety requirements. Training is free to all participants.

All curriculum used in the GREAT courses is developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a not-for-pro. t education foundation created to help address the skilled workforce shortage facing the construction industry and to develop industry-driven standardized craft training programs with portable credentials. Any trainee who completes a GREAT course receives credentials from NCCER's National Registry.

“The need for craft training to provide a skilled workforce in the Gulf Coast area has never been greater than it is today,” says Don Whyte, NCCER president. “We want to help rebuild our communities – and rebuild the lives of the Gulf Coast residents.”

For more information about the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Initiative or the GREAT campaign, visit www.imgreat.org eUpdate: GREAT program

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