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Construction classes rebound at CPCC

Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

Construction education, like the business, has seen its ups and downs during the uncertain economy. Or downs and ups. Classes are filling again, thanks in part to the resurgence in new-home building.

“We had a great class this summer in Carpentry I, and it looks like we will again next semester,” said Steve Corriher, of CPCC’s Construction Technologies program.

Introduction to Carpentry is a “gateway” class, Corriher said. Those who complete it can go on to classes on framing, exterior carpentry or interior trim carpentry.

A few folks representing builders have dropped by, trying to recruit workers, Corriher said. “Hey, if (a student) gets a job and enters into a career, that’s a success.”

The introductory carpentry class, and others like it, saw interest fall during the downturn.

Some area builders have faced a shortage of workers as their business has rebounded. Not all builders, according to Alan Banks, president of the Home Builders Association of Charlotte, and not all trades. But the problem has been large enough to draw notice.

The biggest need, said Banks, who’s with Evans Coghill Homes, has been for those with basic skills. At Central Piedmont Community College, classes offering basic skills are the ones that dipped.

The introductory masonry class is on the rebound, for instance. It’s back after disappearing for a couple of semesters. It’s popular with homeowners. And it’s attracting some workers who are laborers in the trade but want to advance.

Classes in advanced electrical skills remained strong: “A lot of that was the emerging energy sector here in Charlotte,” Corriher said.

I confess, I’m a CPCC fan. I’ve taken everything from horticulture to personal finance to a refresher course for the contractor’s exam. I’ve learned a lot – and met lots of great people.

I taught a daylong class in wallpaper hanging and drywall repair in Corriher’s big warehouse classroom on the Harper Campus. My favorite anecdote: One Saturday morning, while I was explaining how to handle tricky corners with wallpaper, a wife turned to her husband and said: “I told you so!”

The next semester at CPCC starts in August. Introduction to Carpentry costs $120 and meets two nights a week for eight weeks. For information on all the construction offerings, visit

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