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Careers in Construction Project Builds Next Generation Construction Workforce

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Colorado Springs, CO —  During this present construction boom in Colorado where the evolving skylines are brimming with construction cranes, the industry as a whole is still facing shortages for qualified laborers. According to the Associated General Contractors’ 2015 National Workforce Survey, 86% of construction firms nationwide are having difficulty filling positions with 95% of Colorado firms reporting workforce challenges to hire salaried and hourly positions.

Recognizing a need for change in the industry and a much-needed investment in education, the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs (CSHBA) and AGC of Colorado (AGC) formed a joint initiative to support the Careers in Construction project. This non-profit workforce development initiative facilitates local high schools with curriculum-based training certified by the Home Builders Institute (HBI), the educational arm of the National Association of Homebuilders. The main trades include basic skills for plumbing, electrical, HVAC and carpentry. The project provides a viable alternative to those students not seeking a traditional four-year degree, with competitive wages for skilled labor, ranging from $60,000/year as a carpenter to $70,000/year in masonry. The project will support construction firms by providing a resource pool of high school students equipped with basic skills for summer jobs and apprenticeships.

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Careers in Construction has been initiated in several school districts in Colorado Springs, including District 2’s Harrison High School, who piloted the program in the fall of 2015 with 16 students. District 49 added it to the curriculum for the spring semester of 2016 with 30 participants and District 11 is following suit in the fall of 2016. According to George Hess, chair for the Workforce Development Committee, who helped launch the program, the interest is certainly growing in the school districts, but sustaining the initiative with necessary funding remains an issue.

The Workforce Development Committee, which is comprised of members from CSHBA and AGC developed the Building Futures Fund as a financial support mechanism to allow for sustained support of Careers in Construction. This fund collects a voluntary fee at the time of permit in El Paso County of $6/permit on remodels/alterations, $25/permit on new residential and $50/permit on new commercial projects and commercial renovations over $20,000. 100% of this fee supports Careers in Construction. The funds generated supply the necessary books, licensure for curriculum, construction materials and teacher’s support for the Careers in Construction program. George Hess commented, “This is not just an industry initiative, it’s a community initiative. The project not only provide the opportunity for an upcoming qualified labor force, but also help high schools provide an education alternative for students that may choose construction as a career path to support their future families without student loan debt.”

Building the next generation of the construction workforce starts with education opportunities in local communities. Michael Gifford, President and CEO of AGC, commented, “Programs like these lay the foundation to positively affect the future of Colorado’s infrastructure and support the growth of one of the fastest growing areas in the nation.”

For more information on the Careers in Construction project, visit our site or contact Marla Novak at 719-592-1800 x 14.

Photo courtesy of CSHBA

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