Plumbers, electricians, and construction workers are essential workers. These trades are grappling with severe labor shortages and there is a critical need to train young people to enter the workforce. The National Center for Construction Research and Education reports that by 2023, there will be a need of one million craft professionals.
Although there are many organizations working tirelessly to bring attention to the construction industry as a career, there is still something missing to connect young people to this industry. Students and young people who would be a great fit for construction are not seeing it as a viable option and if they do, they lack the knowledge and resources to access it. We, as a society, spend tremendous time and money educating our high school students on the different college pathways. We visit multiple colleges to determine the best fit based on academic courses, size, geographic location, housing, extracurricular programs, study abroad programs and cost. For our students interested in going directly to the workforce or community college, we do not afford them the same level of exploration. We may tell them options, but we do not show them.
Specialized Career Guidance has found the missing link. We have applied the same scope of experience that we use for the college search process to create a similar model for the construction trades. The student can build knowledge on union and open shop apprenticeship programs, community college certificate and associate degree programs, and continuing degree transfer programs with colleges and universities offering bachelors degree programs. We create forums for meeting with current apprentices in the same way our college bound students meet with current students. We provide clarity on the physical expectations, importance of money management, seasonal unemployment process, safety, travel, benefits and opportunities for career growth. We highlight different work cultures as we would different campuses.
With collaboration from academic institutions: high schools, colleges and universities, apprenticeship programs – both union and open shop, industry associations, employers, grant funders and workforce boards, we will create a strong pipeline that will accomplish a critical need: strong employer retention through an engaged, informed and motivated workforce.