Proposed budget could fix need for skilled workers

Proposed budget could fix need for skilled workers
Darrel Ealum (Source: WALB)
Darrel Ealum (Source: WALB)
LRA Constructions (Source: WALB)
LRA Constructions (Source: WALB)
Ben Barrow (Source: WALB)
Ben Barrow (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Construction work is not a lost art, but it's been slowly losing its luster.

Ben Barrow has been the President of LRA Construction for 39 years.

His company used to have around 110 staffers to deploy at a time, now the number hovers around 60-70.

He says it's tough to find skilled labor.

"Try to find a young man that's laying brick," said Barrow. "It's harder to find. Now you've got a lot of older guys like me that are out here doing it, but we need somebody to replace us."

The growing problem ballooned after January's storms.

With the increased demand for work, some homeowners resorted to getting work done from folk who weren't well-educated.

That leaves a bigger mess for his crew to come and clean up.

"We go in and see houses that are not framed correctly, we see roofs that are not put on correctly," said Barrow. "We see a lot of poor construction that we're coming back in and now trying to fix."

A fix to the greater problem at hand would be to educate more workers.

State representative Darrel Ealum is optimistic about the state's proposed budget that will allocate 4-point-98 million dollars to the Carlton Construction Academy at Albany Technical College.

"There's a lot of additional classes that are going to be able to be taught once this phase II is completed and it could take 6-8 months to complete," said Representative Ealum.

The academy will add 23 thousand square feet, and provide additional courses like Diesel Technology.

It will also continue to educate in areas such as construction management, plumbing and air conditioning.

"We're going to need a lot more skills that the Carlton Construction Academy is going to be able to teach," said Representative  Ealum.

"At least they're trying to do something to educate the kids," said Barrow. "And that's what we all should focus on. Put aside all the differences that have been floating around and let's get our kids educated."

The Budget has been passed by both state houses, but still has to be approved by governor Deal.

He's expected to do so within the next few weeks.

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