Students in Western Carolina University’s Kimmel School of Construction Management are getting a no-cost head start on important industry certifications that will give them an advantage as they graduate and go into professional careers, thanks to ongoing corporate support from Wayne Brothers Inc.
A construction services company headquartered in Davidson, Wayne Brothers has contributed nearly $6,000 in funding that will enable Occupational Safety and Health Administration training for more than 100 WCU construction management students. Additional commitments from the company totaling $15,000 over a five-year period will expand the OSHA training opportunities to an even larger pool of students.
Through the Wayne Brothers-funded initiative, Mickey Henson, assistant professor in the Kimmel School, has completed the required courses to be an OSHA-verified trainer and received certification enabling him to teach the safety courses to construction management students during the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters.
The funding also is covering the cost of first-aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator training, providing an additional jump start for WCU students after graduation, said Jason Sisk, director of safety and human resources for Wayne Brothers.
“We believe this training will be a significant benefit to the students when they graduate with OSHA 30-hour, first aid and CPR certification. It will provide readiness for them to go to work, either as an intern or as a step in a professional career,” said Sisk, who earned his bachelor’s degree industrial technology in 2002 and his master’s degree in technology in 2004, both from WCU.
“To be a supervisor on site in the construction industry, it’s required that you have CPR and first aid training. Through this effort, WCU construction management graduates are entering the profession more hirable, better prepared and ready to go to work on day one,” he said.
Support from corporate partners is critical to higher education and the construction profession across North Carolina and the Southeast, WCU’s Henson said. “This is a win/win situation where educators are provided with the necessary training and tools to educate students on a higher level. It also assists higher education in providing better-trained employees for the construction industry,” he said.
“The contributions from Wayne Brothers illustrate both the support for student education from the private sector and the construction industry’s commitment to safety. A good safety and health program reduces work-related injuries and illnesses, improves morale and productivity, and reduces workers’ compensation costs,” Henson said.
Killian Wares, a senior construction management major from Greensboro, said the OSHA training and an emphasis on jobsite safety are integral to the future success of program graduates.
“Construction is dangerous, and safety is considered in every stage from planning to delivery. It is common practice for daily safety meetings to be held each morning to ensure that everyone is prepared for the specific challenges of that day, whether it’s welding or an extra-heavy crane lift. Because safety is such a constant part of the modern construction industry, it must also be a constant part of the education we are receiving to prepare us for that industry,” Wares said.
Brandy Parker, a junior in the Kimmel School from Hayesville, said she believes the training program is important to future managers and will help them keep employees safe by giving them the ability to recognize and look for potential hazards.
“Having this mindset is beneficial for both the employee and employer. If we foster a safe work environment as managers, it helps morale with the employees and saves the employer money by reducing the risk of workplace injuries,” Parker said. “By having our OSHA 30-hour cards, it will give us a leg up in finding employment. I think it is awesome that Wayne Brothers recognizes the benefit and is giving back to the community.”
Safety is the primary motivation for the support of WCU’s construction management program, Sisk said.
“In our industry, safety is our top priority. It is engrained in our company culture,” he said. “We got involved in this effort to protect the lives of people and prevent incidents in the industry. Even if these students graduate and don’t come to work for Wayne Brothers, they will help spread that culture of safety throughout the industry.”
Sisk was on campus Friday, April 22, to present certificates of completion to students who finished the training. The students will receive their official OSHA 30-hour cards over the 2022 summer break.
In addition to its financial contributions, Wayne Brothers also provides support to the construction management program by participating in student career fairs, sending representatives to serve as class speakers, and offering internship and employment opportunities, said Sisk, who sits on WCU’s Construction Management Advisory Board and its executive committee.
The company is working to bring other industry players into the fold, encouraging donations of personal protective equipment and small tools to the construction management program.
University officials estimate that the company’s monetary contribution will result in more than $47,000 in cost savings to the construction management program, compared to the cost of external OSHA-30 training for WCU students.
In addition, certified faculty members will be able to offer OSHA training to industries and individuals across Western North Carolina through WCU’s professional development program offerings.
For more information about corporate support opportunities, contact the Division of Advancement at 828-227-7124 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website give.wcu.edu.