Construction jobs are in demand because of industry growth and an aging workforce. To build interest in the construction field, Workforce Central organized a partnership of industry leaders. The group created Career Day to expose high school students to the opportunities available in the construction industry. Since 2008, thousands of Career Day participants have added construction-related work to their list of dream jobs.
SITUATION: FAST GROWTH COMPOUNDED BY HIGH RETIREMENTS
Pierce County’s construction industry is expected to grow at a rate of 3.6% annually through 2023. Construction employers say they have difficulty finding enough skilled workers to keep up with demand already, and demand will only increase as construction continues to grow faster than any other industry in the county.
Meantime, the Pierce County Building & Construction Trades Council estimates that 18.3% of the construction workforce is age 55 or older and could be considering retirement in the next few years. Nationwide, as many as 1.4 million construction workers could exit the workforce quickly if they decide their pensions can support their retirement. Is the next generation ready to fill the gap?
ACTION: WORKFORCE CENTRAL CONVENES A CONSTRUCTION PARTNERSHIP
In 2002, WorkForce Central convened a special council of business leaders in the construction industry. Acting as the Pierce County Construction Partnership, members use their influence and resources to respond to industry needs and introduce new workers to career paths in the construction sector. Connecting with young talent has always been critical in supplying workers, and the need is now as critical as ever.
The partnership founded Career Day in 2008 to introduce high schoolers to career paths in construction. Their vision was affirmed in a 2016 study on supply and demand for workers in the construction industry.
According to the research, employers in the trades need more opportunities to connect with young people while they’re still in high school. Without knowing about jobs in the trades, young adults may choose other, lower-paying jobs—and employers risk losing some of the best training years with them. The studies commend Career Day as a proven way to connect youth with jobs in these sectors.
The Pierce County Construction Partnership works on behalf of and reports to the Workforce Development Council.
RESULTS: PARTNERSHIP'S 2016 CAREER DAY DRAWS 2,200 STUDENTS
Career Day goes beyond construction to introduce high school students to career paths in manufacturing, engineering, utilities, aerospace and other STEM- and trades- related careers. Vendors are required to provide hands-on activities that allow students to experience the types of work they might encounter there.
Students spend the day testing their skills at carpentry, welding, electrical work and technical engineering, using math skills and deductive reasoning to solve real-world problems. They can drive backhoes and front-end loaders, and compete with each other in computer simulations. The annual event takes place at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup.
- More than 2,200 students from 40 different schools participated in the 2016 Career Day
- Nearly 140 different vendors set up interactive booths introducing students to their work
- Tomboy Tools hosted a large girls-only section dedicated to encourage women to seek careers in the trades
- The event has grown to become the largest career day in Washington state