NAPLES, Fla. – The Immokalee Foundation’s Engineering & Construction Management Pathway, an offshoot of the Foundation’s innovative Career Pathways Program, is helping solve the growing need for skilled construction professionals while empowering the children of Immokalee, Florida.
Now in its 31st year, The Immokalee Foundation is 100% focused on education and professional development for a group of students from kindergarten through postsecondary education. With an economy precariously reliant on agriculture, Immokalee, located in South-Central, Florida, is one of the poorest and least educated communities in the United States. The poverty rate in Immokalee is over 43%. Plus, the poverty rate for children is even higher, with over one-half of the children between the ages of 5- and 17-years old living below the poverty level.
The Foundation’s Careers Pathways Program—which helps students beginning in middle school explore professional career pathways—provides opportunities and training for high-demand professional careers throughout Southwest Florida. The four pathways include Engineering & Construction Management, Healthcare, Education & Human Services, and Business Management & Entrepreneurship.
The transformative Engineering & Construction Management Pathway developed by The Immokalee Foundation addresses two critical obstacles—breaking the generational cycle of poverty in Immokalee while building the next generation of skilled management professionals in the construction industry.
According to industry experts, 2 million workers are needed over the next three years to meet the growing construction demand throughout the United States. And of the available workers, construction firms say 72% of candidates lack the necessary qualifications and hands-on experience according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
“The current, and future, demand for construction services in Southwest Florida surpasses the regional resources available,” said Greg Brisson, President of BCB Homes. “Future leaders in the Southwest Florida construction industry are in our communities. It is our mission along with The Immokalee Foundation and many of our trusted trade partners to educate and guide young, enthusiastic men and women into lucrative and stable careers in construction in Southwest Florida. This program will enhance our industry and strengthen our community. We are proud to be a partner in this incredible program.”
The Career Pathways Learning Lab project is a one-of-a-kind experiential learning opportunity that enables students to work and train alongside industry professionals to learn about land development, home construction, marketing and sales. With a goal of training our nation’s future construction industry leaders, The Learning Lab not only helps address the short-term need for qualified construction personnel but also is helping change the landscape of Immokalee. A once-vacant lot is being transformed into a beacon of hope and proof that the Foundation’s programs are creating new pathways to success. The project will result in 18 1,680+ square feet homes with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage in the heart of Immokalee. The homes will be sold at market value to help support the program.
“The Immokalee Foundation has created a template that, if introduced nationally, would greatly improve the availability of trained construction professionals,” said Steve Pryor, former President of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “Though they are changing a relatively small community in Florida, The Immokalee Foundation deserves to be viewed as role models for innovative education.”
“Our students are learning valuable skills that will help set them up for a lifetime of success while helping transform the landscape of their community for the better,” said Noemi Y. Perez, President and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “This program is truly transformative for our community and our students. Building these homes in their hometown of Immokalee is profoundly meaningful for them.”