MCC to launch early-college construction program with NKC Schools, JE Dunn

Northland students interested in construction careers can graduate from high school and college simultaneously, thanks to a new program that will launch this fall. The Kansas City Construction Career Academy is a partnership of Metropolitan Community College, North Kansas City Schools and JE Dunn Construction.

A ceremony to celebrate the new venture will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the MCC-Business & Technology campus (Exhibit Hall B), 1775 Universal Ave., Kansas City, MO 64120. Officials of MCC, North Kansas City Schools and JE Dunn will be on hand, along with prospective students.

MCC’s Board of Trustees approved a new building maintenance and construction academic program on March 29. It will include two certificate credentials and an expected associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree. The Kansas City Construction Career Academy is an early-college iteration of the larger building maintenance and construction degree program.

About 20 students from North Kansas City School District’s four high schools are expected to begin the two-year program as juniors. Students, who will incur no costs, will attend classes at the MCC-Business & Technology campus from 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. weekdays.

When the NKC students successfully complete the program, they will receive both their North Kansas City Schools high school diploma and a diploma from Metropolitan Community College. Students are expected to earn an A.A.S. in building maintenance and construction, pending state and Higher Learning Commission approval of the new MCC degree program.

Students will obtain skills in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC), general construction and building repair.

“We are our community’s college,” said Dr. Kimberly Beatty, Metropolitan Community College chancellor. “We’re always working to create pathways that will put students in high-demand jobs. This is another example of how partnerships with industry and K-12 districts help our students be successful.”

Dr. Dan Clemens, North Kansas City Schools superintendent, said the district is committed to providing opportunities for all students.

“This program aligns with our plan to prepare all students for career and college success,” Clemens said. “It also ensures NKCS is a competitive choice for families by providing a variety of options for all types of learners.”

The NKC high school students will take courses such as General Construction Principles and Trade Tools; Electrical Safety and Principles; Introduction to Health and Safety for Construction; Carpentry: Stairs, Flooring and Roofs; and Building Mechanical Systems.

“With the projected labor shortages in the construction skilled trades, this program is a win-win for all parties involved,” said Steve Dunn, chairman of JE Dunn Construction. “When students graduate from this program, they will have the opportunity to be hired for high-demand jobs in the construction industry. We at JE Dunn are very excited and proud to be involved with MCC and North Kansas City Schools in launching the Kansas City Construction Career Academy.”

The new MCC program’s curriculum was put together after discussions with representatives of industry, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and many others, according to Dr. Carlos Peñaloza, MCC vice chancellor for instruction.

“There were indications of a shortage of workers with construction skills,” said Joseph Roche, dean of instruction at MCC-Business & Technology. “Hotels and multifamily housing as well as residential construction were all struggling because commercial and industrial construction demands were growing.”

Roche added that the carpenters union, with the support of the Builders’ Association, told MCC officials they needed an A.A.S. degree in building maintenance and construction that would transfer to a four-year school.

Construction is the second-highest sector in expected job growth in the Kansas City area in 2018, with just over 3,800 positions to fill, according to the Mid-America Regional Council.

The new MCC program focuses on broad, transferable skills and stresses the understanding of the most common aspects of the construction, building maintenance and repair industries.