In response to industry need, Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation, Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE), and North Coast Builders Exchange (NCBE) launched the North Bay Construction Corps in February 2017 to recruit and train students interested in the construction trades and get them on a path to post-secondary training and employment after high school. After its first year in Sonoma County, NBCC expanded to Mendocino County in 2018 with a robust program until 2020 when the program was paused due to COVID-19. After a two-year hiatus, North Bay Construction Corps returned to Mendocino County in the 2022-2023 school year.
North Bay Construction Corps (NBCC), a program of the North Coast Builders Exchange (NCBE), is eight-week construction skills building and career exploration program for high school seniors interested in a career in construction. We work closely with local area high schools (both traditional and alternative) to recruit students for the program. Classes are taught by high school teachers, skilled industry tradespeople and business owners in topics ranging from tool handling and personal safety to fundamentals of electrical, carpentry, solar power design and installation, drywall, concrete, framing, sheet metal, and much more. The goal of the program is to equip our students with the skills and competencies to be ready to enter the construction workforce upon completion of the program.
This program teaches high school seniors technical and soft skills desired by most contractors in a newly hired employee. Students who successfully complete the rigorous program are invited to participate in a two-week boot camp project or paid internship where they practice newly acquired skills. Upon completion of Boot Camp or their internship, students meet and interview with several local businesses. Year after year, students receive job offers from local companies and have credited the program with helping them clarify their career goals and opening their eyes to opportunities around them. Many of our students are hired on the spot at the graduation and interview event each year. Since the pilot program in 2017, North Bay Construction Corps has graduated more than 200 students in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa counties.
The program’s target population is high school seniors both at traditional and alternative high schools. We work closely with college and career counselors and CTE teachers at school sites to reach students. We provide printed and digital materials to be distributed to the students. We also make presentations on campus, mainly in the CTE classes. We utilize program graduates and construction industry partners to make these presentations so that students can hear firsthand about the program and the construction industry. We also market this program to our 900 plus members through our weekly newsletter, Building News.
NBCC’s focus on workforce development, particularly in the construction industry, is crucial due to the demand for labor. The construction industry will need to attract nearly 546,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2023 to meet the demand for labor nationally, according to a model developed by Associated Builders and Contractors. With an aging workforce and a shortage of skilled labor, our program aims to train and equip young individuals with the skills and knowledge required to meet this demand. We seek to provide them with a viable career path and simultaneously strengthen the construction industry in our region.
In 2023, NBCC served 20 students and partnered with over 10 local construction businesses in Mendocino County. We are thrilled for the opportunity to expand the program in 2024 and beyond with the funding provided by the State of California. This funding will allow for the geographic expansion of NBCC as well as increasing the number of students we can serve. Funding from the state will also allow NCBE to implement additional Workforce Development programming including outreach to middle school students through a Careers in Construction Expo. We look forward to working in partnership with the State of California, Mendocino County Office of Education, and Career Technical Education Foundation to ensure out students have every opportunity to be successful and to support thriving workforce and community in Mendocino County.