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The North Carolina home building industry is taking meaningful action to increase the visibility of technical careers and training opportunities available in the state. The North Carolina Home Builders Educational and Charitable Foundation recently signed a $5 million contract with the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) to officially launch the Be Pro Be Proud workforce development pilot program. Be Pro Be Proud, which began as an initiative in Arkansas, aims to change the public’s perception of technical careers.

The goal of the program is to stimulate student, parent, and educator interest in technical professions within the construction, manufacturing, transportation, and utility industries. The program will be administered by the foundation with oversight from NCDOL. Funding is provided by the state and includes collaborations with several local government offices, community, and industry partners.

“Labor is the number one issue for our industry right now, and Be Pro Be Proud is one meaningful way for us to move the needle in the right direction,” said Tim Minton, North Carolina Home Builders Association Executive Vice President. “We are excited to play an active role in this partnership, as we know this program will put North Carolina ahead of the curve in terms of addressing the needs of the workforce.”

The program utilizes a custom-built mobile workshop trailer that is outfitted with virtual reality simulations and provides hands-on experience with skilled professionals. The mobile workshop offers a dynamic environment for middle and high school students to step into a life of a technical professional.

After touring the mobile unit, students who are interested in learning more will be connected to additional opportunities for hands-on learning and volunteering. Invitations to networking events with job and postsecondary school recruiters also will be provided. The first mobile workshop stops are tentatively scheduled for the fall 2022 school year.