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Skilled to Work: North Alabama Homebuilding Academy celebrates 200th graduate, creating skilled workers

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Matt Fesmire

Matt Fesmire

The North Alabama Homebuilding Academy is where students are building a foundation to work in the construction industry.

"We take anyone regardless of their skill level," said Tommy Davis, administrator for NAHA. "We teach them the basic skills and then we get them involved in the trade."

Matt Fesmire graduated from the program this week. He grew up working on home projects alongside his dad.

"Honestly found myself loving every minute of it," said Fesmire.

His father worked as an electrician up until retirement.

"Working with my dad would have been the largest influence on me as to why I wanted to pursue this," said Fesmire.

Throughout the years of working on home projects, he realized he loved seeing a finished product.

"It always just something that was so satisfying," said Fesmire.

During college, Fesmire pursued a liberal arts degree. But as time went on, his goals and desired changed.

"I found myself wanting to work with my hands," said Fesmire. "I found myself wanting to do projects that really would be something that I could get a sense of satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, of building and constructing something."

So he switched gears and found the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy.

"A school that provides basic training skills for those who are lightly skilled or unskilled in the construction industry," said Davis.

NAHA prepares for students for multiple opportunities.

"Within these various fields, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry, electrical and so on," said Davis.

Davis said NAHA is looking to fill a gap in the construction industry.

"Average age for skilled trades professional is in their upper 50s, and so if you look at those who are wanting to retire fairly soon, the gap is that we don't have younger folks coming in to fill their place," said Davis.

85% of students have jobs after graduating the program. Fesmire is now one of those students.

"I was offered a position with Kay Electric," said Fesmire.

A moment that for him and his family feels full circle.

"That's what my father was, so that's kind of the path that I wanted to follow," said Fesmire.

The non-profit started in 2019. On Thursday, the academy celebrated its 200th graduate.

The next round of classes begin March 17. Students are trained by industry experts.

NAHA is a free program to students thanks to partner sponsors.

You can sign up for NAHA here.

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