UT Arlington Division for Enterprise Development joins industry, Texas Masonry Council to start two masonry schools

Workforce need

The University of Texas at Arlington’s Division of Enterprise Development has partnered with more than 20 companies and an industry council to create two masonry schools that will address a shortage of bricklayers.

Acme Brick has donated $50,000 to start the schools. Contractors and manufacturers from across the state, along with the Waco-based Texas Masonry Council, have donated money and in-kind contributions that total more than $225,000 to kick-start the schools.

UT Arlington has leased space and is operating in Grand Prairie’s Great Southwest Industrial District and the northern area of Houston.

Bryan Sims, executive director at UTA’s Division for Enterprise Development, said the effort is a new training initiative for teaching construction trades at the Division for Enterprise Development.

“There were so many contractors and project managers coming to us and saying they couldn’t find qualified masons,” Sims said. “This fits in nicely with what we do at DED and that is to prepare workers for the workforce.”

Dennis Knautz, Acme Brick’s president and chief executive officer, said the Fort Worth-based company produces the finest building products in the marketplace.

“However, if no one is available to install our brick, block and stone, builders and masonry contractors will understandably look to alternative materials,” Knautz said. “In recent years, this has become an acute issue as we have witnessed many long-tenured masons retiring or leaving the trade altogether for the oil patch or other industries.”

Knautz said that as the industry leader, Acme believed it needed to help initiate a program that could provide the training necessary to move interested job-seekers into a career in masonry.

“The staff at UT Arlington has been extraordinarily receptive, helpful and creative in putting together this program that should help ease our industry’s shortage of masons by developing candidates who will be qualified for these good-paying jobs,” Knautz said. “We are excited about partnering with UTA, and we hope others in our industry will follow our lead and help support this effort.”

Lindsey Stringer, Texas Masonry Council association manager, said the level one training certification program that UTA’s DED is starting is an eight-week accelerated discipline.

“It’s been created to train individuals faster, allowing them to enter the workforce sooner,” Stringer said. “The construction climate in Texas is to continuing grow at a steady pace resulting in an overwhelming demand for masons.”

Students graduating from the eight-week program will have an great understanding of brick and concrete masonry unit construction, earn a 10-hour OSHA certification card and have the potential to earn a substantial starting salary.

Many masonry contractors in Texas offer employees 401k matching benefits, health insurance, and are looking forward to employing these new young men and women entering the masonry field. 

Classes will be taught in English and Spanish in both the Grand Prairie and Houston locations. The program’s strategic plan calls for expansion in to the Austin, Central Texas and San Antonio markets.

About the UT Arlington Division for Enterprise Development

The Division for Enterprise Development at The University of Texas at Arlington supports the University's missions of public service, community outreach and lifelong learning. The Division is comprised of a number of diverse training and consulting programs. The Division maintains a central focus on improving employability, enhancing job skills, and identifying career pathways for our constituents. Our dedicated team of professionals shares one goal: an unwavering commitment to public service. Visit www.uta.edu/ded for more information.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.