"If you fix people or you fix things, you will always have a job."
-Peter Beard, SR VP of Regional Workforce Development at Greater Houston Partnership
One of the things that makes me successful at my job is my ability to reach backward into my previous life as an educator. This allows me to speak to school districts using "education" language about the role Career and Technical Education(CTE) plays in creating a sustainable craft professional talent pipeline. C3 has a number of Accredited Employers who are successfully bridging the gap between classroom and career with programs around pre-apprenticeship. Additionally, C3 offers career awareness and career fair days to school districts and their students to educate them on how to move from CTE student to professional craft worker.
We are making headway in sharing our opportunities with the classroom side of school districts and have formed strong partnerships with multiple districts in this space. But this isn't enough. We need to connect the classroom programs with building programs at these same ISDs. If we truly want to change how construction is perceived by students and parents, we need to leverage all the tools available to us to connect classrooms to jobsites in districts where students are enrolled in construction and architecture pathways.
Facilities and maintenance departments at school districts do not need a primer on how limited the workforce is. They face the challenges of securing enough labor every day. What seems to be disconnected for them is the bountiful supply in their classrooms. They are educating the workforce of the future - they have the next shift of craft professionals walking their hallways. As C3 continues to dialogue with districts about how to create C3 projects in the K12 market, the connection between classroom and jobsite must be part of our pitch. Convincing districts to change procurement methodologies and move into a new business model that leverages good work practices used on C3 projects has the potential to create a pipeline of workers who come with both classroom and career experience.
So how do we accomplish this? We begin to talk with our K12 facilities departments about how they can positively impact the perception of construction careers through engagement with Construction Career Collaborative. We offer up solutions that include hiring the students to work district jobsites as part of their coursework practicum class, serving as members of advisory boards, teaching classes for students with our seasoned professionals, and leveraging our post-secondary education partners for apprenticeship or construction boot camps.
Matching up contractors and the incoming workforce is how we create sustainability in our pipeline. Leveraging corporate partners and the student workforce to help districts build and maintain their ecosystem allows C3 to build a pipeline of craft professionals that keep workers and economic development here at home in Houston. And then we all WIN!
C3 is working to create this connection in the minds of multiple ISDs. Have a connection at a local ISD facilities department you want C3 to meet? Contact me to set up a call. 713.999.1032 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We can win the war on workforce together, and leveraging the classroom and construction site is a brilliant way to fight the battle.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Construction Career Collaborative