CEFGA Announces $5.7 Million Commitment to Address Skills Gap

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation and The Marcus Foundation Create First Joint Partnership to Introduce the Next Generation to the Skilled Trades


ATLANTA, January 15, 2020 – A $5.7 million grant will enable the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) to create a model that addresses the nation’s need for skilled workers in the construction trades — beginning with the expansion of CEFGA’s program in Georgia.

Created in 1993 by construction employers to address Georgia’s skills gap, CEFGA is expanding a statewide effort to address two significant socio-economic challenges in Georgia: first, the need to reduce the growing and dramatic workforce shortages in the construction industry; and second, the need to create more and stronger career pathways for Georgia’s young people that enable them to have self-sustainable and fulfilling lives.

The Marcus Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation will “seed” a three-year investment that will allow CEFGA to:

  • Expand the number of elementary and middle school construction programs from nine to at least 20 across the state.
  • Expand the number of industry-certified high school construction programs in Georgia from 42 to more than 80.
  • Expose more than 21,000 students to careers in construction.
  • Provide training and industry credentials to more than 17,500 students.
  • Place at least 3,500 students into work-based learning and full-time employment opportunities in the construction industry.

A recent report by Kennesaw State University found that 83 percent of construction companies surveyed said staffing was their biggest business challenge. The Georgia Department of Labor estimates 271,529 skilled jobs will be needed by 2022.

“We are grateful to these industry leaders for addressing the very real problem of the workforce skills gap facing the construction industry,” said Scott Shelar, Chief Executive Officer and President of CEFGA. “This watershed funding effort will make a significant impact on students across the state, while simultaneously helping industry partners see tangible results as more skilled professionals join the workforce.”

“CEFGA’s new education model is changing the game for how students in Georgia learn about and pursue a career in the trades,” said Craig Menear, Chairman, CEO and President of The Home Depot. “As the skilled labor gap continues to widen, we’re proud to support CEFGA and partner with The Marcus and Blank Foundations to train future generations of tradesmen and women.”

Bernie Marcus, The Home Depot co-founder and Chairman of The Marcus Foundation says, “I’ve been concerned for a number of years that students have been told that if they don’t get a college education they can’t succeed. It’s not true. And it hasn’t been true since I was a kid. Many people have been successful after learning a trade. It helps make the world ’work.’ Our country has grown and prospered because of electricians, plumbers, and all kinds of construction workers in every generation. Having a skill in a trade today can lead to a great job, no college debt, and the ability to provide for a family.”

Arthur Blank, The Home Depot co-founder and Chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, says: “We believe in the power of workforce development programs to provide living wage jobs and long-term economic mobility. CEFGA is a trusted partner in our Family Foundation’s workforce development on the Westside of Atlanta, where Westside Works has placed nearly 400 Westside residents into construction jobs. We look forward to working together to provide additional meaningful opportunities for students across Georgia.”

In addition to employer partners, CEFGA works closely with the Georgia Department of Education – CTAE Division and local school systems throughout the state to implement the model. The new partnership will enable CEFGA to expand its K-12 program across Georgia and build a concept that could be implemented in other states.  Dr. Mike Looney, Superintendent of Fulton County Schools, said, “Providing students with hands-on, real-life experiences during their formative years is critical to their long-term success in school and life. Fulton County Schools is eager to expand existing efforts in elementary and middle schools. I have personally seen the benefit of students acquiring and applying new skills related to the construction industry.” At present, CEFGA is helping to create and enhance vertically integrated construction programs in the Roswell school cluster.

Additional details of the new partnership will be unveiled at CEFGA’s 2020 CareerExpo, scheduled for March 12-13, 2020 at the Georgia World Congress Center. More than 5,000 middle, high school and college students from across Georgia will come to learn about careers in the building industry and speak with professionals from 300+ leading companies. Details at https://staging.cefga.org/careerexpo/.

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