It’s October. You know what’s happening this month, right?
Halloween? Well, that’s true, but that’s not what we meant. In addition to spooky season, October happens to be Careers in Construction Month, when businesses in the construction industry celebrate the opportunities for industry newcomers, consider ways to reach out to young people considering the industry and generally raise awareness for jobs in construction. Careers in Construction Month, or CICM, was created in 2013 by Build Your Future and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).
If you’re wondering why careers in construction need their own awareness month, the Associated Builders and Contractors found that in this year alone, there was a shortage of 650,000 construction and craft professionals, and that gap is expected to widen over time. At a time when our country’s infrastructure is suffering, we need folks in construction more than ever.
What caused this gap? Well, in the American educational system, schools typically stress obtaining a 4-year college degree over opportunities in trade schools to high school students. And while it is true that most jobs in other industries require a BA to let prospective hirees in the door, trade school can be a direct route to secure, well-paying jobs, too. However, the fact that there is a stigma against blue-collar work in our society isn’t helping anything.
These statistics might be spooky, but we can change them. The best way to combat this according to Build Your Future is through outreach and awareness. In a time when unemployment is inching its way upwards in the face of economic uncertainty, careers in trades like construction provide great opportunities for education and advancement and cost much less than the average college degree. We can all agree that this is important work – those bridges aren’t going to fix themselves..
So, how can you get involved? If you maintain a social media presence, Build Your Future has social media toolkits with graphics, statistics and more that you can post to your accounts. If you’re not so technologically savvy but still want to contribute, you could reach out to schools in your area and see if you could set up a demonstration, or even a possible field trip, to show local students how the machines work. Children love seeing heavy machinery up close, and you’ll be able to plant the seed that might lead to a future construction professional someday. But kids aren’t the only ones you can reach out to: The construction industry can provide great second career opportunities for veterans, who often have transferable skills from their time in the Armed Forces. Showing up to a veteran-specific job fair or reaching out to your local VA can help you get in touch.
In addition to these, Build Your Future also offers a pledge you can take to show your commitment to reaching out to the craft and construction professionals of tomorrow. And by pledging, you have the chance to win a $5,000 scholarship for your organization. You can even send a request to your state legislature asking them to create a proclamation to recognize October as Careers in Construction Month. Last year, 47 states and territories issued proclamations in honor of this month. Will this be the year we get all 50? We’ll have to find out.
So, this October, we hope you’ll join us in spreading the word about the construction industry and the many opportunities therein. The future might not be clear, but that’s where opportunity exists. All we need to do is seize it. Happy Careers in Construction Month!