PCC Launching Masonry Course with NCMCA’s Backing

On hand for the delivery of masonry supplies and equipment were, left to right: PCC Masonry Instructor Rob Waugh, Manning Masonry, Inc. Vice President Tim Manning, PCC Coordinator of Technical Trades Gail Nichols, PCC Construction & Industrial Technology Dean Steven Mathews and PCC Assistant Vice President of Outreach/Community Engagement Ernis Lee.

WINTERVILLE—While the dangers of Mother Nature have been well-documented over the years, the perils of Father Time haven’t received quite the same attention but are considerably serious nevertheless, as the nation’s construction trades have discovered.

With twice as many people now exiting technical careers as opposed to starting in them, the construction industry is experiencing what many are calling a ‘graying tsunami.’

“(It) simply means we are on a giant wave of quality craftsmen retiring from our industry, and we do not have the personnel to replace them,” says Tim Manning, vice president of Williamston’s Manning Masonry, Inc. “… We have done a poor job over the past couple of decades making sure people hear that message.”

As the nationwide practice of steering the majority of high school students toward four-year universities for higher education persists unabated, Manning says open construction jobs are increasingly left unfilled.

“… We have to change that narrative,” he said. “There are viable educational and career opportunities in the trades.”

To address the need for skilled masons locally, the N.C. Masonry Contractors Association (NCMCA) poured its energy and resources into helping Pitt Community College restart its masonry program. Training begins May 15 and will take place on the PCC campus Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for 12 weeks, with Rob Waugh serving as instructor.

“The support I’ve received from NCMCA has been wonderful,” says PCC Coordinator of Technical Trades Gail Nichols. “I’ve never experienced anything like it before in getting new training off the ground, which says a lot about how much the masonry industry needs skilled professionals.

“PCC has been trying to bring its masonry program back for the past six years, and now that is going to happen next month, thanks to the backing and generosity of the N.C. Masonry Contractors Association.”

Through his role as an NCMCA member, Manning helped deliver equipment and supplies the organization donated to PCC in support of its new masonry training, including several loads of bricks, concrete masonry units and tools. He thanked Nichols for her efforts to restart the masonry program at Pitt and said the college would have NCMCA’s full support in its effort to produce skilled masons.

“(PCC) is where we can build the next generation of quality craftsmen,” Manning said. “With the lack of masonry programming at the high school-level in this area, it is imperative we reach out to these students and make them aware that masonry is a viable and rewarding career path.”

As a third-generation mason whose company has completed many large projects, including some at PCC and others at East Carolina University’s Dowdy-Ficklen and Clark-LeClair stadiums, Manning had a message for students still searching for career guidance.

“No matter what your future holds, learn a trade,” he said. “If you learn how to do something with your hands, no one can ever take it away from you. Your job will never be outsourced. You will never find yourself in the unemployment line.”

For more information on PCC’s new masonry program, contact Nichols at (252) 493-7625 or gnichols@email.pittcc.edu.