Training Academy ensures a pipeline of skilled workers for Huntsville businesses

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 11:32 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) -In the Tennessee Valley, new residential and commercial construction is exploding. They can’t build homes fast enough, and there aren’t enough skilled workers to go around. However, there is one local business creating its own pipeline to fill that gap.

H.C. Blake Co. in Huntsville has been at it since 1884, training the next generation of plumbers or electricians. But, the demand for those skills hasn’t been higher than it is now.

“We try to grab your talents out of you. You might come in here thinking you’re a salesman and you become a plumber,” says H.C. Blake President, Jim Batson.

It’s all about the right fit for the right job, right in the middle of a nationwide workforce shortage. H.C Blake Co. is focused on teaching students new skills in its Training Academy, ensuring a job afterward, and it’s all paid for. For students like Zachary Young, what more can you ask for?

“Paying on the job experience, all the materials we are using today are paid for… Paying you just to learn safety procedures. It is pretty unheard of. It is like winning the lottery. That is kind of how it feels,” says Young.

The Training Academy is even helping students like Isaac Edwards get back on their feet and find a career during the pandemic.

“COVID hit and I didn’t have anything. I found a fast food joint and that helped for about 7 months and then I found this. It is my career now,” says Edwards.

Batson says the Training Academy is good for the company, students, and the local economy, but says you can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

“You have to find the person that wants to do the work. It is not about finding the person that wants to go into the trade it is about finding the person that wants to go into work,” says Batson.

H.C. Blake takes in around 10 new students about every month and a half. Upon starting the program, if you find it is not for you, you do not have to finish the training. The company will take another group of students in about 4 to 5 weeks.

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