A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Drywall Clinic at Technical High School Promotes Careers in Construction: Part 1

Last week a group of construction professionals from MAREK once again volunteered their time to instruct high school students in drywall installation at their new state-of-the-art Pasadena Independent School District facility.  Houston area construction firms such as MAREK have partnered with Pasadena ISD in the past to enhance the programs offered to students looking for careers in construction.

In past years these workshops occurred at the L.P. Card Career and Technical Center, which was a high school campus where juniors and seniors were enrolled in certain career and technical programs (including construction technology) for half of each school day while remaining enrolled in classes at their home Pasadena ISD campuses for the other half of each day.  Beginning with the current school year, the new Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School (CTHS) is now a four-year high school where students who apply and are accepted into these career-oriented programs attend for all four years while completing all requirements for their high school diplomas.

Standing just outside of the large two-story bay which houses the workshop for the Construction Technologies program, I had the opportunity to talk with Assistant Principal Chad Phillips about what students in this program learn.  Phillips explained that they learn about aspects of the construction industry from drawing and drafting to the “hands-on” parts such as framing, sheetrock, roofing, plumbing, and electrical.  “They get a little experience in everything,” he said.

Students apply to attend this special high school when they are in the eighth grade.  Those eighth-grade applicants are evaluated for their attendance, discipline, and level of interest in the program.  With limited slots available for these students, Pasadena ISD wishes to grant the opportunity to those students who show the desire and commitment to succeed in the program.  “We are looking for students who want to be here.”

Some of the students who are accepted into the program hope to pursue careers in architecture, construction, and even engineering.

“What we are doing here at CTHS is we provide students options.  They can enter the workforce directly after high school, they can go to a two-year college and get some additional skills, or they can go on to a four-year university to pursue a degree,” Phillips explained.

I asked what advantage a local construction business might have in hiring a CTHS graduate over another applicant.  With obvious pride, Phillips replied:

“I think the biggest advantage is that our students want to be here.  The average student at CTHS chose to be in this program, so they have that will and that desire to enter the construction industry. … The things that you would look for in an employee, we look for in a student.”

The school’s stated mission is to “empower students to successfully transition to the global community through unique educational experiences.”

If your company would like to become a CTHS business partner, working with the next generation of interested and engaged people looking for careers in the skilled trades, you might consider learning more about the programs this innovative school offers.

Hear more of my interview with Mr. Phillips in the 2-minute video below.

Look for more photos and video interviews from the workshop on ConstructionCitizen.com.