Construction Ready has a catch phrase to describe its graduates: Trained, Credentialed, Ready to Work. Pre-apprenticeship students meet with prospective employers on the last Thursday of the program, receive their credentials and job matches on Friday, and typically start work the following Monday. When Jacksonville resident Harold Smith received his offer from Touchton Plumbing, he was really ready to work.
“They said, ‘Come in on Monday,’” Harold remembers. “I was like, ‘I heard y’all are working six days a week right now; are you telling me nobody needs a helper tomorrow?’ They said, ‘Well, if you want to come out here tomorrow, come on out,’ and I said, ‘I’ll be there at 6:30.’ Construction Ready says, ‘Trained, Credentialed and Ready to Work,’ and I took that to mean ready to work right now.”
Harold’s work ethic has paid off, as he’s received two raises since Touchton hired him in November 2022. He’s helped complete the Miller Center, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new state-of-the-art headquarters, and he’s now been assigned to a medical center project.
“That’s going to be a lot of good experience,” Harold says. “I like seeing goals accomplished, I like seeing things get completed. When I came to [the Miller Center project], I remember walking up a muddy path just to get in.”
Harold had been interested in a construction career before he discovered Construction Ready training. He previously worked in warehousing, but when he had a day off or was between jobs, he would take day laborer jobs through a temp agency just to explore opportunities in the skilled trades.
That went on for several years. Then, when Construction Ready began offering Jacksonville classes in 2022, he enrolled with Jags Group 4 and found greater traction in that career path. He brought his characteristic initiative to the Miller Center job, where he made sure every day was a productive experience.
“When I got to the job site,” he recalls, “I was able to think back on the things I learned in Construction Ready – safety, tools, what to look out for, what to expect – and understand what needed to be done to help move the project forward. If I saw a day was going to be slow, I would say, ‘OK, let me pick up a broom,’ or, ‘Let me see if I can go peel tape off the floor drains.’ I wanted to know what needed to be done and I would ask if I could go do that.”
Harold also continued to learn along the way, acquiring the OSHA 30 credential (to go along with the OSHA 10 he earned through Construction Ready) and paying close attention to the journeyman he’s been assigned to for most of his tenure with Touchton. He’ll continue to work with that journeyman on the new medical center job.
“I’m enjoying the learning,” Harold says. “It’s changing my life. It’s been very positive and constructive for me.
“I’m very appreciative of Construction Ready and what they’re doing,” he adds. “I hope that other people who go through it are paying attention and realize what a great opportunity it is.”