By Steve Lestarjette

With as many as 7,000 jobs needing to be filled by the end of 2016, Houston area industrial scaffolding companies approached Houston Community College with a critical request: Create a new program quickly to help train prospective workers.

Those companies, including Brand Energy and Infrastructure Services, Brock Group, Excel Modular Scaffold (EMS), and Safeway Group, are now benefiting from the college’s swift action.

The first industrial scaffolding course opened in January 2016. As word about the program has spread, enrollments have grown. All six graduates of the inaugural class were employed in entry-level positions in May. A second class has more than 40 potential employees.

“We’re very happy with the training these students receive at HCC,” said Excel Hiring Director Mark Sammis. “Scaffolding company representatives helped create the curriculum and are meeting with college leaders monthly during this first year. By the time a student completes the course, they have learned safety procedures, and know enough to start working on day one. They know what the job demands and what to expect.”

The Industrial Scaffolding Committee works closely with HCC, and students that complete the two-week course earn an Industrial Scaffolding Certificate, created by the group to acknowledge acquired skills and safety training important to the industry.

In 2012, EMS opened an Operations Center in Deer Park and immediately found projects up and down the Houston Ship Channel and further.

In industry, companies that compete for business but work together to solve common workforce needs are rare, says Kris Hardwick, director of CE Industrial Technology/Energy at HCC-Northeast.

“HCC—and our students—benefit from the close alliance we enjoy with our industrial partners.”