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Introducing the Summer Careers Academy

Introducing the Summer Careers Academy

New trades training program will connect local youth with skills, employers, and a compelling career pathway

Chapel Hill, NC (October 20, 2021): A diverse coalition of educators, employers, governmental officials, and experts are pleased to introduce the Summer Careers Academy. Launching Summer 2022, this new trades training program will connect Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County youth with skills, employers, and a compelling career pathway. The program will focus on serving the needs of youth from refugee and migrant families as well as low income students and students of color.

“The construction industry offers exceptional career opportunities,” said Holly Fraccaro, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties. “This new Summer Careers Academy will connect local youth with new skills and a paid summer work experience while also building the talent pipeline our industry needs.”

Summer Careers Academy 

The inaugural Summer Careers Academy is designed to be an eight week summer pre-apprenticeship program (i.e., Registered Youth Apprenticeship) that will offer at least ten local high school students free in-classroom training and paid work experience in the skilled trades. The training, assessment, certification, and career development standards will be based on the respected and widely-adopted National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core construction curriculum, which prepares students for careers in the construction trades, including occupations in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and HVAC-R repair.

Students who successfully complete the program will earn Construction Core high school credit and a NCCER Certificate, and an U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration Fundamentals for Construction Certificate (OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry Certification), both of which are industry-recognized credentials. In addition, students will earn college scholarships and prior learning credit towards the college-level skilled trades apprenticeship program at Durham Technical Community College and/or other community colleges in the region. Further, students will be prepared for immediate full-time employment as well as eligible for entry into a Registered Apprenticeship, which allows students to continue to earn and learn as they progress in their chosen career.


The inaugural Summer Careers Academy is made possible through a public grant and private donation. The NC Education and Workforce Innovation Commission, which manages the Education and Workforce Innovation Program with administrative support from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, awarded the public grant through a competitive process. The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust (Kenan Charitable Trust), which is a private foundation committed to improving lives particularly in underserved communities, provided the private donation.

“The Summer Careers Academy is a thoughtful and innovative education and workforce development program that is well-poised to help more Orange County students graduate career and college ready,” said Steve Griffin, President of the Insurance People of North Carolina and Chair of the N.C. Education and Workforce Commission.


Orange County, NC has a skilled trades worker shortage and the talent pipeline needs attention. This challenge was documented in the Skilled Construction Trades Study commissioned by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners in 2019 and conducted by The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro in 2020.

Three key findings were identified in the 88-page final report:

  1. There is a construction worker shortage and employer demand continues despite the pandemic-related economic contraction.
  2. There are several occupations in the construction trades with strong income opportunities and projected growth.
  3. While the construction job opportunities are robust, training for these occupations in Orange County is limited at best.

The report featured details on four model training programs, including the Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Construction Careers Academy (p. 20-23). The design of the new Summer Careers Academy is inspired by the CVCC model and will serve as a workforce development initiative in complement with other regional interventions to address the current and projected employer demands and inspire the next generation with a rewarding career pathway in the skilled trades.


The diverse coalition that developed the Summer Careers Academy concept includes representatives from educational institutions, employer groups, and governmental agencies as well as community volunteers and experts. The coalition is led by a steering committee that is dedicated to building a skilled talent pipeline for the future.

The steering committee aims to deepen and broaden the Summer Careers Academy concept after the initial launch in order to empower more students in the skilled construction trades as well as in other trades and industries. To accomplish this long-term vision, the steering committee will align with the Business Advisory Council, which assists the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools Boards of Education in performing their duty to provide career and technical education instruction, activities, and services. The steering committee includes representatives from the following organizations:

Educational Institutions

  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro City SchoolsSteering committee member, fiscal agent for the public grant, lead agency for recruiting, training, and retaining the future director of the Summer Careers Academy, and advisory partner on program and curriculum development. Contact Kathi Breweur, Director, Career and Technical Education,
  • Orange County SchoolsSteering committee member, lead agency for securing the summer training site and developing the curriculum, and advisory partner on program development. Contact Shannon Braxton, Director, Career and Technical Education,
  • Durham Technical Community CollegeSteering committee member and advisory partner on program and curriculum development. Contact Dr. Lancelot Gooden, Dean of Building, Engineering, and Skilled Trades (B.E.S.T. Programs),; Maryah Smith-Overman, Assistant Dean (B.E.S.T. Programs), Director/Instructor Construction Trades,

Employer Groups

Governmental Agencies


  • James (Jim) Porto, Ph.D., MPASteering Committee member, lead grant writer, and advisory partner on program and curriculum development. Contact Jim Porto, former Mayor of Carrboro, Retired UNC-Chapel Hill Adjunct Faculty, Marine, and volunteer:
  • Berman (Keith) SipeSteering Committee member and lead consultant on program and curriculum development and employer engagement. Contact Berman (Keith) Sipe, President, Berry-Berman Consulting, LLC, former Director of the Catawba Valley Community College Summer Construction Academy, and former executive at Duke Energy:

There are several other individuals who have been involved in the development of the Summer Careers Academy, including but not limited to representatives from ApprenticeshipNC, Durham Public Schools and the WayMakers Collaborative, Hope Renovations, Orange County Board of Commissioners, and Orange County Schools Board of Education.

Next Steps

The Steering Committee is working hard, smart, and together to make the Summer Careers Academy a reality by Summer 2022. Currently, the steering committee is communicating the vision to build momentum, recruiting a talented executive who will help direct the academy, hosting two employer input sessions (on Oct 28 and Oct 29) to inform the design of the program, and developing metrics to measure performance and ensure success. Student recruitment for the inaugural summer 2022 program will begin in early 2022. To learn more and stay informed on the progress of the Summer Careers Academy, visit

Contact: For questions, contact Katie Loovis, Vice President of External Affairs, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, at (919) 696-0781 (cell) or

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