Pinellas Technical College helping build a future for the youth

Instructor Richard Wiggins teaching home maintenance to the Summer Leadership and Workforce Training Academy last July

ST. PETERSBURG — When the Cohort of Champions – a signature program of the City of St. Petersburg’s My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper (MBSK) Initiative – wanted to teach their participants household maintenance, they wasted no time contacting the Office of Workforce Innovation at Pinellas Technical College (PTC).

Over the summer, young men ages 12-24 got a chance to participate in a custom-designed course where several participants earned a Maintenance/Handyman Certificate that could lead to several work-related and entrepreneurship opportunities.

The high schoolers taking the fall home maintenance class, which started Nov. 4, will have a chance to work in the same area as the adult students in the Building Construction Technologies outdoor classroom.

Instructor Richard Wiggins devised an eight-week curriculum that includes taking apart and putting a toilet back together while learning to install it properly. The young men will learn to drill a hole in a door to install a lock, used a coping saw to lay baseboards seamlessly, and other handy household maintenance lessons.

Wiggins, who worked as a construction manager, conducted home inspections, and worked as an energy auditor, has been in the construction field for more than 30 years.  He was introduced to working with his hands in a middle school shop class and would like to see other young men start in the field early as well.

“Why not take the student and train them earlier because they may have an opportunity to go into their career early,” said Wiggins, who also taught veterans a similar but more advanced course at the Home Builders Institute in Tampa.

Wiggins said it is incumbent upon the parent to prepare their child for the world, and if they are unable to teach the skills themselves, a course such as this is a step in the right direction.

“If you’re going to be a father one day, you need to be able to provide for your household, whether you’re able to do it with your hands or your mind, but you need a skillset.”

The Cohort of Champions is a youth training program that offers support by way of educational, entrepreneurial, workforce, and enrichment training opportunities for young African-American males. Through workshops, cohort members gain real-life experiences, learn how to implement real-world business principles, and gain an understanding of the importance of serving the community.

Carlos Daniels, Cohort of Champions coordinator, is excited to have his charges meet at the St. Pete campus of PTC. He’s also pleased to be the one who introduces many of them to the opportunities that the campus affords.

“Some of these young men don’t know what’s going on in this building,” he said. “I was born and raised in this city, and last year when I first came through, I didn’t know they had that many programs in this building.”

The Cohort of Champions is an ongoing open enrollment program, for more information, contact Carlos Daniels at 727-893-7894.

Contact the Office of Workforce Innovation for continuing workforce education and customized course needs at 727-893-2500 ext. 2655.

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