One such graduate was Ryan Langlois, who is a resident of Gonzales. Langlois was part of the electrical program and was sponsored by Excel Group, LLC.

With an estimated 500,000 construction jobs open at any given point in the U.S., Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Pelican Chapter helps address the shortage.

ABC Pelican educates craft workers with book knowledge, as well as hands-on training, across Louisiana. On January 24, 155 students completed coursework in positions like pipefitting and heavy machine operations that gave them the opportunity to graduate.

One such graduate was Ryan Langlois, who is a resident of Gonzales. Langlois was part of the electrical program and was sponsored by Excel Group, LLC.

"I saw this as an opportunity to better myself, and it doesn't cost a thing to do it since it was sponsored," Langlois said. "To me, it was an obvious opportunity to advance in my career."

Langlois was also chosen to go to California this year to compete in the National Championship for his craft, which was electrical. He was given this opportunity because he placed first in the local craft championship. In order to attend, students have to pass a written exam and know basic safety regulations and motor controls, among many other skills.

Another student named Alvin Allen, who was part of the pipefitting program, was selected to attend the National Championship in California as well. Allen was sponsored by the Jacobs Field Service.

Steve Greene, Vice-President of the National Center for Construction Education and Research in Florida, also attended the ceremony.

"I grew up in a small town in South Carolina," Greene said. "I was just an ordinary human being there. As an ordinary human, I learned extraordinary things while at vocational school, just as all of you have. You are all extraordinary."

Greene has over forty years of experience in construction management and has been a member of a National Technical Honor Society.

The ABC Pelican training program has a seventy-five percent retention rate, with 116 high school students who attend the Baton Rouge facility, and 139 high school students that attend in Lake Charles. For more info visit www.abcpelican.org.

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.