After teaching for 30 years, Taylor has seen many students pursue successful fields in the trades. “I have recent graduates who are in the field, those who are in carpentry and some as estimators. Others have gone to work in places that sell building products, and I have several students who have started their own companies,” he says. “When I go to home shows it’s like a reunion.”
Taylor first became involved with SkillsUSA as a student in 1976 and then as a teacher since 1984. “One of the strong activities SkillsUSA tries to promote is professional and technical skill development,” he says.
Community members formed a nonprofit foundation, the Frederick County Student Construction Trades Foundation, which is comprised of members of the community who are part of the construction industry and represent businesses from mechanical companies to contractors to a real estate agent and even someone who handles house settlements. The foundation provides funding for students to build a home. Students travel to the site to construct different phases of the home. Once complete, it goes up for sale and proceeds go toward the next home for land and materials. Leftover proceeds help fund scholarships.
Taylor has seen an ebb and flow of interest in the trades throughout his 30 years as an educator. “I know a lot of contractors are concerned about the future of attracting youth to the work place,” he says.
“By businesses being involved in local construction programs, not only is it a good recruitment tool for letting parents and students see what kind of career opportunities are available, but it also keeps the educational programs in direct dialog with industry,” Taylor says. “That communication link and partnership is critical to ensure the educational community is up to date and providing skills that are needed in business. We have to keep that dialog going.”