More than 200 students gathered at the West Cal Events Center with their families and instructors Thursday night for the Southwest Training Center’s Fall and Spring semesters graduation.
Graduates of the center, run by the non-profit trade association Pelican Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., completed craft training programs in welding, heavy equipment, mobile crane, pipefitting, millwright, electrical, and instrumentation.
Director of Education for the Center, Kirby Bruchhaus, told the graduates the previous two semesters had the highest student enrollment the center has ever had. “The need (for these skills) is great right now,” he said. “I want you to get out and learn every day and get better at your craft every day.” Bruchhaus said he has learned over his decade as director how important the center is to its students as well as t the society in which they go to work.
The night’s guest speaker was Chad Pierce, manager of training and workforce development for EXCEL. Pierce commended the graduates for their perseverance and the sacrifices they made to complete their training. He requested that they turn to their family members and give them a round of applause for their support. “They made sacrifices along with you,” he said.
Pierce imparted some advice in the form of “3 Bs”:
• Be There — “Show up on time for work,” he said. “(Tardiness) is a real problem in industry.” Pierce said if a workday is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m., don’t show up at 7:29 a.m. He recommended arriving at least 10 minutes early.
• Be Willing — “Be willing to work your way up to the top,” said Pierce. “Be willing to do the jobs no one else wants to do, and you’ll get to keep your job.” He recounted a story from his first job with a contractor in which the boss requested volunteers for jobs every day without telling them what they entailed. Every day volunteers were giving the most difficult, work-intensive tasks, while those who didn’t raise their hands were sent to rise in an air-conditioned truck and refill water jugs throughout the site. Pierce said that while he volunteered every day, he questioned his boss about the fairness of it. He was told the reasoning behind it would become clear soon. One day the boss gathered the workers and said he had been directed to reduce the number of crew members from 100 to 70. Every one of the workers who refused to volunteer was laid off.
“Don’t ever say ‘that’s not my job’,” he said. “Don’t get into that mindset.” He suggested that management may be testing those being asked to perform a job outside their wheelhouse to determine if they are leadership material.
• Be Awesome — “Be awesome at what you do,” he said. “Come with the right attitude, be a team player, and deliver what you say you will deliver. Over-deliver if possible.”