A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Illuminating the Path to Construction Careers has Never Been More Important

The idea that a four-year degree is the only path to success in America is an outdated notion.  Numerous recent studies have found that our educational system as it currently exists is not producing enough graduates with the skills that employers are looking for, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries.  For example, the Construction Labor Research Council predicts that 185,000 new workers will be needed annually for the next decade.  The need for a skilled construction industry workforce is compounded by the lack of a strong pool of young craft professionals to replace the older generation as they retire.

As part of our ongoing efforts to underscore the importance of Career and Technical Education (CTE) as the key to narrowing this skills gap and raising awareness of the well-paying career opportunities in construction, the Build Your Future (BYF) initiative has developed a wide range of resources to help young people and displaced workers find careers in our industry.

Our recently launched BYF Career Center provides a platform for craft professionals to highlight their industry-recognized, portable credentials to construction industry employers, and for new recruits to find entry-level opportunities to become a part of the industry.  The Career Center also offers targeted features to help industry employers hone in on the attributes they value in new hires and experienced workers.

As part of our effort to increase awareness of construction careers, BYF’s annual Careers In Construction Week (CICW) will take place this year from October 29 – November 2.  CICW encourages schools, contractors and organizations to partner locally to host construction career events and programs to provide CTE students opportunities to see how their skills may fit with employers in their areas.  The flagship event for CICW is BYF’s Texas Construction Career Day, which is set for Oct. 31 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Last year, our Texas event was a resounding success, with over 900 students, educators and employers participating.  I encourage you to use CICW as an opportunity to show students in your communities the value of their skills and the fantastic careers available in construction.

We are also celebrating craft professionals by teaming up with organizations like IRWIN Tools and SkillsUSA.  As part of the race festivities for the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol, IRWIN saluted the winners from the BYF-sponsored SkillsUSA National Carpentry Competition by giving the top finishers the “Ultimate Race Experience”.  The experience included working alongside the Number 81 NASCAR Truck Series team at the Arrington Racing shop and working as honorary pit crew members for BYF co-sponsored driver David Starr at the race.  Events like this help us in our mission to provide opportunities for young people to experience the reality of today’s construction market.

If we want America’s youth to give construction careers a fair shake, it’s time for us to think critically about how we can change the outdated perception that our industry only offers dead end jobs for unskilled laborers.  Industrial and commercial construction employers are struggling to find young people with the skills they need, and CTE programs can be a huge asset in exposing them to high-demand craft professions and providing training.  But, to take full advantage of that asset, the industry must collaborate with educational institutions to help spread the word.  By working together, we can show the next generation where construction can take them.

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