Excitement filled the air on a cloudy day when 387 students with 50 teacher/administrator chaperones from 23 Houston-Metropolitan Area high school campuses attended the 2019 Construction Careers Expo on Thursday, October 24 at the Pasadena Municipal Fairgrounds. These select students represented Alvin, Barbers Hill, Crosby, Deer Park, Dickenson, Galena Park, Goose Creek Consolidated, Houston, Pasadena, Pearland, Sheldon, Spring Branch, and Texas City Independent School Districts. With 215 volunteers representing 41 contractors, colleges, and suppliers joined with the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, Inc. to sponsor and facilitate the Exposition including the donation of resources, services, and time to make this event happen.
The Construction Industry needs to attract new workers annually to keep up with the current employment demand. Therefore, a primary goal of the Exposition was for these Career and Technical Education (CTE) students to have an opportunity to explore the many facets of the Industry as they participated in 26 different hands-on activities stations in a safe environment and to learn about career opportunities as they spoke with Construction Industry professionals. A secondary goal was to give the CTE teachers new connections to current happenings in the Industry, provide them with an opportunity to meet Industry leaders, and make the teachers aware of the numerous job opportunities for their students.
For me, it continues to be most rewarding to watch the students participate in the hands-on activities and engage in conversation with Industry professionals. Hands-on activities included areas such as small crane, excavator, and manlift operation, electrical, fall protection, hanging drywall, harness safety, HVAC duct assembly, iron worker, millwright, nail driving, pipefitting, pressure testing, rigging, scaffold building, tool identification, welding, weld inspections, and virtual reality. Students also had an opportunity to operate crane, excavator and welding simulators as well as spend time speaking with construction professionals and college representatives at 24 different career information booths. All of these activities took place with the focus of the importance of safety in the workplace.
Student surveys indicated 100% of the students rated the Expo as fun and informative and 95% as Extremely Helpful or Helpful in making future career decisions. When asked if a future career in the Construction Industry was planned, 64% indicated “Yes”, 33% indicating “Undecided” with 3% indicating “No”. Student comments included statements such as “It gave me many different opportunities to see what goes on in construction”; “Very helpful, I was able to learn about other crafts”; and “It was extremely helpful to learn about opportunities.” There wasn’t a single activity that didn’t get votes for “Favorite Event” including the lunch break.
During the day and after the Exposition, I received volunteer comments complementing the students on how well behaved, how inquisitive and engaging they were. Volunteer comments included statements such as “I thought the Construction Expo was so well organized and the food was awesome. It was a good day for us.”; and “I think that the event was again a success.” One high school CTE Director wrote, “I can’t thank you enough for everything you do for the students in our region. It was wonderful to see so many groups of students excited and engaged yesterday, and it truly made me proud to be among those who were invited.” One instructor wrote, “My students gleaned from the Construction Careers Expo experience – thank you for sharing. It was well organized, ran smoothly and was very informative. Several students commented on wanting to start their careers with companies represented at the Expo. We appreciate those companies who volunteered their time.”
At the close of the day, each student left with a better understanding of the Construction Industry career opportunities and a backpack filled with informational items from the participating organizations, and the students expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to attend the Exposition. These types of comments are most rewarding to me and confirm that the hours the volunteers invested were well spent. Once again, I want to express my personal THANKS to all of the volunteers who unselfishly gave of their time and talent to support the 2019 Construction Careers Exposition and to Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner who started the event with a pledge, prayer, and encouraging words to the students.