The following article was written by Jennifer Woodruff, Marketing Director of ABC Houston, and originally published in ABC's BuildHoustonOnline.
With the passage of House Bill 5 (HB5), there is a renewed emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The bill has been a much needed shot in the arm to re-energize the pursuit of Career and Technical Education (CTE) around the Gulf Coast region. However, with the increased demand on CTE programs comes higher material costs, subject matter expert/speaker needs, and basic equipment underwriting for ISD budgets that are already stretched thin. Currently, 22 area ISDs who represent 43 area high schools are partnered with Construction & Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), using the NCCER curriculum to deliver accredited craft training. Students who attend these sponsored schools get a head start on their craft training so that they are ready to enter the industry as they graduate from high school. One such student, Micheal Noschese, who at the age of 17, became the youngest competitor to win a gold medal in structural welding at the 2016 ABC National Craft Championships. Now, just one year after his gold medal win, Michael has a promising career at Performance Contractors – out earning many of his peers.
Michael’s story is awe-inspiring, and demonstrates how important having access to trade based learning materials and hands-on equipment can be for a high school student. However, many ISDs are struggling to provide the necessary ‘tools’ of success for their students who seek a career in the construction trades. CMEF’s Schools Program exists to connect industry with educators and bring experts, curriculum, materials, and sponsorship support to ISD CTE programs. One of the goals of CMEF’s Schools Program is to provide students with the opportunity to explore the many facets of the construction industry and the career opportunities available. A secondary goal is to provide CTE teachers with resources and opportunities to meet industry leaders and become aware of the numerous job opportunities for their students. Lastly, the program aims to encourage industry participation from the companies who seek to fill positions on their jobsites.
There are several ways for the owner and contractor community to come together – through the CMEF High School Program – to help provide guidance, materials, consumables, and equipment for local high schools in the area. One way to get involved is to join the Construction Careers Youth Committee (CCYC) whose mission is to promote and support construction industry workforce education at public schools. CCYC members also have the opportunity to volunteer to serve on high school Career and Technology Education Advisory Committees.
The “Adopt-A-School Program” is another initiative promoted by the CCYC to create a mutually beneficial partnership between the industry community and the local ISD. Benefits of such partnerships include portraying a positive industry image, as well as enhancing craft skills training.
Adopt-A-School Program participants help create a construction industry outreach program at an unsponsored high school campus. As an industry expert, the sponsor assists with presentations, on site demonstrations, procurement of supplies, Advisory Committee involvement, mock interviews, jobsite tours and more. Another avenue to become involved is through the ABC/CMEF Construction Careers Expo – a daylong event that introduces students to basic craft skills and allows them the opportunity to experience hands-on activities and events in a safe environment.
Are you ready to invest in the industry’s future? Get involved in one of the many programs outlined in this article. For more information about high school program sponsorship or to learn about the CCYC committee and its programs, please contact Dr. Steve Horton at 281-478-3900 or visit www.abchouston.org.