WCS Superintendent Bobby Brown Educates & Inspires CTE Students at OUSD Skilled Trades Fair

Webcor returned to the spring 2023 Skilled Trades Fair for another memorable day of meeting and educating OUSD’s CTE students.

April 14, 2023


Years ago, Webcor’s Parcel J team connected with Oakland Unified School District’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Building & Construction Trades program about getting involved with the district’s biannual Skilled Trades Fair at Cypress Mandela Training Center, a world-class training center that runs a building trades-approved pre-apprenticeship construction program in Oakland. The day-long trades fair introduces OUSD’s CTE students to the skilled labor world through hands-on activities, e.g. pouring concrete, laying bricks, bending metal, and sweating pipe, and informal networking with a wide range of trade professionals.

“Exposure is everything for a student who might not have had an opportunity to see or feel the built environment before,” says Outreach and Partnerships Manager Sharla Sullivan, who attended Skilled Trades Day on behalf of Webcor and the ACE Mentor program. “Exposing these students to real-world work in the trades greatly increases their chances of joining our industry, whether through a four-year college, two-year technical college, or building trades apprenticeship programs. We need these students on our projects as our future workforce and future leaders!”

Since then, Webcor Craft’s partnership with the Skilled Trades Fair has remained consistently active. Year after year, Webcor Craft has hosted a station featuring a hands-on activity, such as door hardware installation, for the students to perform under the Webcor Craft representative’s guidance. After a rewarding first experience supporting last fall’s Skilled Trades Fair, Webcor Carpentry Superintendent Bobby Brown returned to the Cypress Mandela Training Center for another memorable day of meeting and educating OUSD’s CTE students at this year’s spring fair. With sample hardware in hand, Bobby explained where and how the hardware was applied before passing it around to the students for them to hold, disassemble, and reassemble.

“Now as the students walk through their campus, they’ll see the door closers and exit devices in a whole new light,” Bobby says. “They’ll understand how they came about and why they’re used.”

As students stopped by Webcor’s station in small groups throughout the day, they asked Bobby several thoughtful construction career-related questions that prompted new insights and experiences for him to share, often resulting in several follow-up questions. Energized by their genuine curiosity and interest, Bobby shared story after story about his professional background, training, experience, and life at Webcor over the last 20 years.

“OUSD’s Skilled Trades Fair is a fantastic way to introduce construction as a possible career path for these young students soon entering the workforce,” Bobby says. “It’s up to them to make the best of such a valuable learning opportunity! A variety of students visited Webcor’s station—some who were super engaged and upfront, some who were unsure of what to expect, and some who were interested in something other than what Webcor had to offer. And that’s OK! I had a great time engaging with all of them throughout the day. I’ve trained countless carpenters throughout my decades-long career—several of whom are still at Webcor—and continue to look forward to seeing and possibly training the next generation of carpenters in the coming years.”

Webcor has long partnered with Cypress Mandela Training Center’s pre-apprenticeship construction program as part of our local hiring efforts. In addition to being the right thing to do, these efforts have become increasingly critical in recent years as public and even some private clients continue to intensify their local hiring requirements, Sharla says. Webcor’s consistent, active involvement with such programs is a crucial step in the process of fulfilling and exceeding those requirements, which exist to ensure our work uplifts and empowers the communities in which we build.

“At the end of the day, these students ARE the community we build for,” she says. “We are bettering their communities and lives directly through our work, whether by building a residential structure in which they may live one day, hiring them for a job at one of our projects, building the businesses that will be frequented by these very students in Oakland, or simply building structures that will endure the test of time for them to enjoy within their local communities.”

In addition to Sharla and Bobby, Webcor Concrete Superintendent Barret Neumayr and Webcor Concrete Sr. Project Manager Mitch Yoffe stopped by the Skilled Trades Fair to show their support and witness some of the action in preparation for their future participation in a Cypress Mandela or OUSD outreach event. Webcor Drywall will attend OUSD’s next Skilled Trades Fair this fall.