Escambia County Public Schools Offering Programs To Address Skilled Labor Shortage in Construction Trades

November 11, 2023

Escambia County Public Schools are working hard to address the local skilled labor shortage in the construction industry.

Chad Cherry, the Skilled Trades instructor at Northview holds a BA degree and has over 28 years experience in the construction industry, including concrete finishing, framing, drywall hanging and finishing, plumbing as well as building management. His years of experience provide a wealth of knowledge for his students.

Four high schools have construction-related academies or programs. All four programs are offering students the Home Building Institute (HBI) sequence of certifications. The HBI Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) curriculum provides students with hands-on training that takes them from freshman with little-to-no building experience to seniors that are ready to enter the workforce.

The certification sequence starts with the Core which consists of safety, construction math, employability, and tools and materials. The HBI carpentry exam covers safety, measurement, tools & equipment, products & material, rough carpentry and framing, and interior & exterior finishing. Additional HBI certifications include Basic Electrical, Core Green and Building Construction Technology.

The Home Builders Association of West Florida (HBA) Green Construction Trades Academy at Pine Forest High School has been successfully operating for a number of years. However, the two programs that have made a significant impact this past school year have been the Skilled Trades program at Northview High School and the Energy Academy at West Florida High School.

As a first year teacher during the 22-23 school year, Cherry’s students earned 164 certifications.

The second program that is recently having a major impact on providing workforce-ready students is Drew Dittmar’s Energy Academy at West Florida High School. Dittmar has more than 15 years of direct experience in the construction field. Additionally, Dittmar holds an MS degree, has all five of the HBI certifications, has two years of experience in the solar industry, has been a construction project manager and is currently serving on the City of Pensacola Zoning Board of Adjustments.

Dittmar’s students earned an impressive 181 HBI certifications for the 2022-23 school year.

For more information on the Northview Skilled Trades program or the Energy Academy at West Florida High School please contact Dan Busse, Workforce Education Specialist at (850) 469 5309 or

Photos for, click to enlarge.


6 Responses to “Escambia County Public Schools Offering Programs To Address Skilled Labor Shortage in Construction Trades”

  1. CCHGN on November 13th, 2023 10:47 pm

    How about a Glazing class?

  2. CL on November 13th, 2023 10:39 pm

    Happy to see Chad Cherry as a teacher!! I know he does a great job. Way to go Chad. I wish all schools had this emphasis on skilled trades.

  3. Joe Kanarkiewicz on November 12th, 2023 12:42 pm

    I did a union apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Always made a decent wage, had medical benefits, and am now retired with a good pension. I would advise any young people to look at the benefits of doing union construction work. There is nothing I like better than telling people that I have a union pension.

  4. area resident on November 12th, 2023 9:53 am

    Fantastic! Two of our four grandsons are in construction; making a living and not dependent on handouts. The high school my husband and I graduated from in Southern California many years ago offered wood, metal, electrical, and auto shops. They also offered cooking and sewing classes for girls so they could grow up to be responsible wives and mothers. Getting back to basics.

  5. Anne on November 12th, 2023 9:12 am

    Escambia County Schools, along with other Fla Schools, had in the 1970-80’s Middle School Construction Trades programs. These were GREAT as led to the high schools where more intense and specific courses were offered.
    At some point the “Brains” in Tallahassee decided Every kid would be a computer whiz and discontinued many Good Trades type programs.
    So Pleased to see this report on our Vocational-Technical Trades coming back.
    Kids can transition from high school to work and earn money in their trade.
    Not every student wants to go to college.

  6. Local on November 12th, 2023 5:59 am

    Now this makes sense. This is absolutely wonderful. Wish more schools in our county could provide more programs like this.