Harkins Builders Construction Apprenticeship Case Study
Harkins Builders Inc., a Columbia-headquartered construction company for multifamily, commercial and government projects, wanted to diversify and strengthen its workforce. “Employees with different backgrounds, ideas and skillsets help streamline construction and build better buildings,” said Ben Nichols, vice president at Harkins Builders.
“Harkins is all about people. In the construction industry specifically, it takes all kinds of people to complete a project. Bringing on employees with different backgrounds and experiences really helps solidify our staff managing our construction projects. We make better decisions the more diverse we are as a company.”
Howard Community College worked with Harkins and other advisory board members to create a customized two-year apprenticeship program, combining specific courses and field training to produce employees with diverse backgrounds who can meet the company’s needs. Apprentices graduate with handpicked skills and experience in areas including mechanical systems, surveying, concrete and steel, project management and project financing.
“Ensuring apprentices get a mix of classroom education coupled with on-the-job field training really produces an excellent candidate at the conclusion of the apprenticeship, somebody who’s ready to hit the ground running probably even more than your typical four-year college graduate,” Nichols said.
With the construction apprenticeship program, Howard Community College and Harkins has established a talent pipeline that attracts candidates from diverse backgrounds and produces employees who bring tremendous value to the company.
“The apprenticeship program,” Nichols said, “helps us identify, train and hire a different kind of person with a different background that has proven to make our company stronger. Our goal is to continue to bring on Howard Community College apprentices.”