The role of community colleges and trade schools in construction workforce development
For most Americans, the concern about who will build the next hospital, stadium, bridge, or neighborhood is not a concern. But as millions of people shift careers and the economy moves forward, the message is loud and clear—we need more construction professionals. The Associated Builders and Contractors recently reported, “the construction industry will need to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet the demand for labor.”
One of the hubs for construction training is the network of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at community colleges. These departments have grown over the past several decades from a handful of classes on carpentry and welding, to full certificate programs featuring a wide range of construction trades. Many are partnered with local construction companies, associations, or trade unions, giving students a direct path to a career in construction.
Support for Workforce Development
There are currently over 10,000,000 construction employees in the United States, but every contractor and construction business owner can point to labor shortages across trades. How should seasoned builders invest in the future of construction professionals through workforce development? Is it possible to create a healthy pipeline of people who are not only interested in the construction sector, but also highly qualified to work in an industry that is becoming more reliant on technology?
Here are ways your construction company can support local training programs:
- Get the conversation started
Call the instructors at your local college or trade school and ask what kind of support they need most from your industry.
- Align your credentials
Are the credentials students are earning recognized in your company and trade? Do credentials lead to higher earning potential and more benefits?
- Share what you need
Tell trade program directors what kind of roles you are hiring for right now, and what you will need in the next two to four years. Any feedback from construction business owners is incredibly valuable as colleges determine what programs they offer.
- Make time for mentoring
Encourage your employees to get involved at local schools as mentors. Traditional students, as well as older adults who are changing careers, need professional guidance from people who are successful in the construction industry.
Find Construction Training
Are you looking to add construction training to your goals for this year? Do you know a young person who is interested in pursuing a career in construction or someone who is looking to change career paths? There are plenty of community colleges who have added construction programs to the degrees and certifications they offer. Search the list of top construction programs in your area, and then focus on the trade area that interests you. Some of the more typical programs include carpentry, welding, and HVAC trades. But more options are opening around construction technology, manufacturing, heavy equipment operation, and project management. Not sure where to start? Check out this construction career quiz from Build Your Future.
When you are making the jump from a previous career to the construction industry, think through what skills may easily transfer. General project management skills are crucial in almost any trade, as well as communication, an ability to learn a new software, and following plans. If you are great at quick calculations, consider becoming an apprentice for an electrician, or look into degree programs for construction estimating. Creativity is core for masonry and residential flooring. Do you have an adventurous streak and experience working outside? Learn about tower crane operators and commercial roofing for your construction training.
To experience the wide range of trades available, research any job fairs or reverse job fairs in your area. There may also be larger CTE programs in your city, like the Construction Education Foundation in Texas. North America's Building Trades Unions offers a map of training locations, and some also offer college credit while you are earning your trade qualifications.
Is your construction business getting creative with workforce development? Tell us about it on the 1build Facebook page!