Fe­male gen­eral con­trac­tor en­cour­ages oth­ers to get into trades

Maryland Independent - - Front Page -

The Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land (CSM) re­cently opened the new Cen­ter for Trades and En­ergy Train­ing at CSM’s new Re­gional Hugh­esville Cam­pus. The CTET fa­cil­ity pro­vides the cour­ses, pro­grams and equip­ment needed to be­gin or mas­ter a ca­reer in the con­struc­tion and skilled trades — plumb­ing, car­pen­try, con­struc­tion, HVAC, elec­tri­cal and more.

“It’s all about putting peo­ple to work,” CSM Pres­i­dent Brad Got­tfried said in a news re­lease. “It’s about giv­ing them the skills they need to suc­ceed … It’s about help­ing stu­dents achieve their goals.”

Open­ing the new CTET in the cen­trally lo­cated Re­gional Hugh­esville Cam­pus makes trades train­ing more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to stu­dents in South­ern Mary­land — like Bar­bara Scot­land of Hugh­esville, a one-time tech­ni­cal writer, English pro­fes­sor and de­part­ment chair, who left it all and re­trained her­self through CSM to be­come a hous­ing con­trac­tor.

Re­cently, Scot­land spoke about the evo­lu­tion of her ca­reer and CSM’s role in it, as she worked at one of her hous­ing projects.

Scot­land ad­justed her pro­tec­tive eye-gear and knelt down next to a bro­ken toi­let flange in the bath­room of one of her rental houses in Ch­e­sa­peake Ranch Es­tates in Lusby. She turned on her os­cil­lat­ing multi-tool, and as the shrill grind­ing sound filled the house, Scot­land worked me­thod­i­cally to re­move, sec­tion by sec­tion, the bro­ken toi­let flange.

“It’s very em­pow­er­ing” Scot­land said later, of this abil­ity to make her own house re­pairs.

Those kinds of skills are par­tic­u­larly valu­able to Scot­land, a CSM trades stu­dent, who is also a li­censed home im­prove­ment gen­eral con­trac­tor. Through her sin­gle-fam­ily home rental busi­ness, she aims to pro­vide high-qual­ity, af­ford­able hous­ing, with a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in rent­ing to women and chil­dren.

Scot­land owns 11 houses in Calvert County, eight of which are rented and three that she is re­pair­ing or re­build­ing. She gets a great deal of sat­is­fac­tion from re­pair­ing, main­tain­ing and up­grad­ing her homes, she said, and she saves money by do­ing much of her own plumb­ing, mi­nor dry­wall re­pair, paint­ing and small car­pen­try projects. What she can’t do or doesn’t want to do her­self, she has the knowl­edge to in­tel­li­gently con­tract out to elec­tri­cians, car­pen­ters, heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing pro­fes­sion­als and oth­ers.

It is a ca­reer that works for Scot­land. “It’s the sat­is­fac­tion of get­ting some­thing done and see­ing it fin­ished,” she said.

Scot­land has learned her trade through a com­bi­na­tion of read­ing books and on­line in­for­ma­tion, watch­ing other pro­fes­sion­als and ask­ing ques­tions. How­ever, Scot­land cred­its trades cour­ses that she’s taken at CSM for much of her skill set. “I’ve taken five classes,” she said. Tak­ing plumb­ing cour­ses at CSM and dis­cov­er­ing how much she par­tic­u­larly en­joyed that work was eye-open­ing to the 53-yearold woman who started out in col­lege as an English lit­er­a­ture and cre­ative writ­ing ma­jor who loved Faulkner and Dick­ens and then evolved into a tech­ni­cal writer, then a CSM pro­fes­sor and then a de­part­ment chair and now, fi­nally, to a home im­prove­ment gen­eral con­trac­tor and pur­veyor of af­ford­able hous­ing.

She said, though, that there is a clear con­nec­tion be­tween her ear­lier lib­eral arts ed­u­ca­tion and the hands-on tech­ni­cal and con­struc­tion work she does now. “It’s all about an­a­lyt­i­cal think­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing, which is what a lib­eral arts ma­jor is taught to do.”

Scot­land could not help but note that she was the only woman in all of her trades classes at CSM so far. She thinks that women don’t even con­sider work in con­struc­tion trades as an op­tion. “Women do re­ally well in the trades. They have the fine mo­tor co­or­di­na­tion,” Scot­land said. And, with the need to do work in tight ar­eas for some jobs, she noted that some­times be­ing a smaller size helps with in­stal­la­tion and re­pair work.

There is an­other rea­son Scot­land en­cour­ages women to con­sider work in the trades. Job op­por­tu­ni­ties are grow­ing rapidly in elec­tri­cal, con­struc­tion, plumb­ing and heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion, air con­di­tion­ing and com­mer­cial re­frig­er­a­tion (HVAC) work. Em­ploy­ment in each of these trade ar­eas is ex­pected to grow by be­tween 20 and 25 per­cent be­tween 2012 and 2022, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics.

“Job growth in the skilled trades has re­mained strong for many years de­spite eco­nomic ups and downs and it is ex­pected to re­main strong look­ing ahead.” said Dr. Dan Mosser, CSM vice pres­i­dent of con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion and work­force devel­op­ment. “You can­not off-shore the work of a skilled trades per­son.”

Scot­land said the CSM trades pro­gram trained her well. “It’s ex­cel­lent … I am ex­cited and proud to be able to at­tend the new CTET.

“Too of­ten I hear peo­ple say the trades is an al­ter­na­tive to those stu­dents who can­not suc­ceed at col­lege. They be­lieve that if a stu­dent is not suc­cess­ful in his or her col­lege cour­ses, he or she can go into the trades, as if some­how the trades are less chal­leng­ing aca­dem­i­cally than col­lege cour­ses,” Scot­land said. “This view­point could not be fur­ther from the truth. Be­ing a cur­rent stu­dent and a mem­ber of the con­struc­tion in­dus­try and hav­ing pre­vi­ously earned an as­so­ciate, bach­e­lor’s and mas­ter’s de­gree, I can at­test to the rig­ors of the course­work pro­vided by CSM’s [trades pro­gram]. My own course­work in the plumb­ing trade has been as chal­leng­ing and re­ward­ing as any col­lege credit class I have taken to earn my col­lege de­grees.”

The 30,000-square-foot new Cen­ter for Trades and En­ergy Train­ing (CTET) is the first build­ing to open on CSM’s new Re­gional Hugh­esville Cam­pus. The new build­ing houses CSM’s trades de­part­ment, which be­fore spring break was lo­cated at a much smaller, leased prop­erty in Wal­dorf. The new CTET also houses the Mary­land Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Train­ing, a pro­gram that pro­vides train­ing for waste­water treat­ment pro­fes­sion­als through­out Mary­land. MCET moves to the Re­gional Hugh­esville Cam­pus from the La Plata Cam­pus grounds.

The idea be­hind the cen­trally lo­cated re­gional cam­pus is to give res­i­dents in the en­tire tri-county area and be­yond easy ac­cess to these spe­cial­ized high­cost pro­grams that pro­vide crit­i­cal work­force train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ad­di­tional pro­grams and five ad­di­tional build­ings will be added to the 74-acre Re­gional Hugh­esville Cam­pus over the next 15 to 20 years, ac­cord­ing to cur­rent plans.

Mosser noted that the new cam­pus is a valu­able re­gional re­source. “Hav­ing the new Cen­ter for Trades and En­ergy Train­ing cen­trally-lo­cated on CSM’s new re­gional cam­pus in Hugh­esville and shar­ing the costs among the three South­ern Mary­land coun­ties is a sig­nif­i­cant com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage for these coun­ties,” he said. “Plus it makes it more con­ve­nient for res­i­dents through­out South­ern Mary­land to ac­cess and lever­age this state-of-the-art ca­reer train­ing fa­cil­ity. And it helps CSM ful­fill its piv­otal role in re­gional eco­nomic growth through the pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment of this re­gion’s skilled con­struc­tion and en­ergy work­force.”


Bar­bara Scot­land of Hugh­esville, a li­censed home im­prove­ment gen­eral con­trac­tor and CSM stu­dent, re­moves a bro­ken toi­let flange in one of her rental prop­er­ties in Calvert County.

Bar­bara Scot­land of Hugh­esville, a li­censed home im­prove­ment gen­eral con­trac­tor and CSM stu­dent, se­lects tools from her van for her next task.

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