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Mark Galbraith
Galbraith/Pre-Design, Inc. 
Vice President/Owner
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Cross-generational mentorship is worth its weight in gold. The subject is near and dear to my heart because, as the co-owner of a multi-generational, family-owned business, I owe most everything that I know to my father, Gary. From an early age, I benefited from what I see as being the “old guys” teaching the “young guys.”

In construction, this is sometimes a contentious situation, but it is vitally important for survival of an efficient and healthy construction industry.
Mentorship can work both ways. At a high level, its value to a company is an increase in profits; and to the younger half of the mentorship, the value is higher earning potential. Construction will always be a hands-on career. But the growing use of computers on the jobsite gives the perfect opportunity for the younger generation to help the older generation adapt to technology. Can it be done remotely? To some extent, yes. Photos, drawings and field notes can be reviewed in many ways remotely. However, I feel that hands-on and one-on-one mentorship is better—this may be due to the fact that I am one of the “old guys” these days!

Rhonda Bridgeman 
Comfort Systems of Virginia, Inc. 
President/Owner
Chesapeake, Virginia

The construction industry today is faced with the formidable task of gapping the disparity between our older tradesmen, who are on the verge of retirement, and challenging our younger generation to pick up the gauntlet and fill the void.

For years, it was acknowledged that positions of leadership and respect had to be earned over time. The younger generations entering our trades are not as willing to accept direction just because “it’s the way we’ve always done it.” 

Our goal is to marry conventional wisdom and work ethic held by seasoned technicians with the technological advances and processes created and inspired by newer generations. Our leaders must mentor and encourage our young apprentices with an open eye and discerning ear. When we embrace the technological advances of our industry, we all win. Our younger generation will be inspired to join our workforce, and we will be able to build in a more effective, efficient and productive manner. We need to respect our past and appreciate our future.

Aaron Viveros 
ABC of Southern California
Electrical Instructor
Anaheim, California

Over the past five years as an instructor, I have learned to love mentoring the next generation of skilled craftsmen. The joy it brings my heart to see people succeed in a trade that has been so good to me is priceless. Mentorship starts from the heart, and we must be willing to go far-and-beyond just teaching a skilled trade. Guiding a student through valuable life choices is just as important.

Remote learning can be challenging at times. From dealing with technical issues to learning new online platforms and utilizing different teaching techniques, I find myself mostly answering phone calls from my students. 

Although the pandemic has changed how we deliver the message, we can all adapt. It could be from smaller class sizes following CDC, WHO, state and local recommendations or teaching online, but the message has stayed the same. It is the quality of the message that will influence a student’s life. An instructor must always ask themselves before every lesson, “How can I leave a positive impression on a student’s life?”

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