Right on the heels of Workforce Development Month in September is Careers in Construction Month, observed every October. While last month we were focused on developing the current and incoming workforce, Careers in Construction Month provides an opportunity to focus on awareness. Sure, people know the construction industry exists, but do they know what it is all about? Do they know all the different jobs available to them? Do they know opportunities for higher pay and job advancement? Probably not. If they did, we wouldn't have a labor shortage.
Careers in Construction Month is spearheaded by Build Your Future (BYF) and NCCER. Last year, 34 states had either proclaimed October as Careers in Construction Month or filed proclamations waiting for official status. Over half the country sees the importance of raising awareness and inspiring the next generation of construction workers. BYF and NCCER have a wealth of resources and tools to help contractors get involved in Careers in Construction Month.
The key is awareness. The people not working in the construction industry need better education as to the makeup of today's construction industry. The emergence of technology and the jobs needed to accommodate that technology has drastically changed the construction career portfolio even from 10 years ago. Yet, the average outside observer still probably sees the industry as a hands-on, dirty, second rate job. That's a viewpoint the industry has been working so hard to overcome.
So what can you do this month to help raise awareness of opportunities in the construction industry? Get out there and get visible. Contact your local high school, middle schools and community colleges for opportunities to speak with the students. Reach out to local newspapers, radios or even television stations. Get your message out on social media through your company, company or local school and media social outlets. Does your company have staffing agencies or any organizations that work with veterans, minorities or low-income families? Bring awareness to these groups of people, too.
Awareness is only half the battle. Once people are aware, we have to inspire them to pursue these career opportunities. Giving speeches may help — if you're a really inspiring public speaker. Visual aids may help. But hands-on opportunities could be the gold mine. Many contractors are incorporating workshops, boot camps, internships, apprenticeships, training and more to inspire the next generation of workers to join the construction industry.
Here are some stories of what some contractors are offering to their communities to bring awareness and inspire a new group of workers to join the construction industry. Maybe some of these will inspire you to create a program of your own.
- Miron Construction Build Like a Girl — This Wisconsin construction company has created a hands-on event for girls 7th through 10th grade. In it's first few years, the program has attracted a number of girls to participate.
- Arizona Federal Pilot Program — To help rebuild its highway construction workforce, a federal pilot program in Arizona engages 18- to 24-year-olds not currently working or attending school in a 10-week paid on-the-job training.
- Construction Career Pathways — Minnesota has developed several programs in the state to raise awareness, inspire and train for the construction industry. Construction Career Pathways is a year-round effort to provide construction career exploration opportunities for Minnesota's youth. Programs include the MN Trades Academy, a paid summer construction internship for high school youth; Kids at Work, a summer experience for students in grades 4 through 8 combing STEM activities with construction building trades activities; Construct Tomorrow, which provides resources and information to youth regarding apprenticeship training and construction career opportunities; Building Minnesota Apprenticeship Program, an entry-level, multi-craft training program for individuals to enter into a career within the construction trades industry; and Minnesota Helmets to Hardhats program.
- Gilbane Construction's "Living Lab" — While working on a new academic building at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Gilbane offered hands-on educational programs around its design and construction including site tours, evening lectures focused on construction and design disciplines, and guest lectures.
- RangerACE Construction Camp — This week-long, no-cost summer camp open to ages 13-15 in Austin, Texas, provides campers experiences to explore construction related careers. The campers are divided into teams which form their own construction company and complete tasks each day. During the week the students design, estimate, bid, layout and construction a concrete pit stall at a go-kart track in Austin.
- Northwest Arkansas Community College’s Mobile Construction Lab — Last year, Northwest Arkansas Community College visited schools in the region to build awareness about construction career opportunities. The college has two vehicles (mobile labs), supplied with tools and equipment, which it takes around to local schools. It provides hands-on learning opportunities in addition to career exploration.
- Turner Construction Career Awareness Program — Andy Davis, business manager for Turner Construction Co., partnered with Advance Memphis and the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce to develop an introductory class for people interested in the construction trades. The four-week class includes hands-on demonstrations, presentations and instruction. Participants also receive job interviews upon successful completion of the program.
Does your construction company have any programs or initiatives for construction career awareness? We'd love to hear about them at ForConstructionPros.com.
If the above stores weren't enough to inspire you, here are a few resources from ForConstructionPros.com on raising awareness and inspiration during Careers in Construction Month.
- How to Host a Construction Career Day
- Hands-on Training Opportunities Create Interest in Construction Jobs
- Mike Rowe Helps Girls Build - For Construction Pros
- Colorado Construction Careers Now Trains State Residents for Free
Just for fun
While you're out spreading construction career awareness and inspiration in October throw in a little extra fun by celebrating some of these holidays and observances this month.
- Oct. 4 - National Golf Day
- Oct. 14. - National Dessert Day
- Oct. 17 - National Pasta Day
- Oct. 22 - National Nut Day
- Oct. 27 - Make a Difference Day
- Oct. 30 - National Candy Corn Day (I wonder why...)
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