October is Careers in Construction Month

October is Careers in Construction Month, a month-long recognition of craft professionals and career opportunities in the construction industry. Sponsored by National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and Build Your Future (BYF), the annual event brings together organizations from around the country to work together to raise awareness of the great career opportunities in the construction industry. Careers in Construction events highlight skilled men and women, provide information and resources for educators, and help youth interested in becoming a craft professional.

In the 2019-2020 school year, the Building Trades and Electricity programs celebrated in a big way. It included guest speakers and field trips. CATEC students kicked off the Month by participating in competitive events at the SkillsUSA State Fair of Virginia in Doswell. Stanley Black and Decker, maker of DeWALT hand tools, Lenox cutting blades, Power concrete anchors, Proto Shop tools, and Irwin hand tools, gave a hand tool safety seminar. Moore’s Mechanical and Electrical and the University of Virginia’s Facilities Management department spoke to students about opportunities in their fields. Students visited Skanska’s University Health System’s multi-year hospital expansion project to learn about urban and commercial projects. At the end of October, students participated in Piedmont Virginia Community College’s 10th Grade BizKid$ Career Pathways Expo, working with the representatives from the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and Build Your Future to promote the skilled trades.

CATEC’s Building Trades program prepares students to erect, install, maintain, and repair buildings and other structures. Curriculum focuses on developing skills in safety for the masonry, carpentry, electrical, and plumbing professions. CATEC’s Electricity program provides students with skills to install, operate, maintain, and repair residential, commercial, and industrial electrical systems. Students study electrical theory and navigate the National Electrical Code Book. Electricity students receive 9 college credits from Piedmont Virginia Community College. Students in both Building Trades and Electricity program are OSHA-10 certified and receive certifications in NCCER curriculum. Each May, CATEC participates in the SkillsUSA and Klein Tools National Signing Day. Two years ago, CATEC recognized 9 students for accepting jobs or apprenticeships with local construction companies.

Skilled craftspeople are in demand nationwide. 70% of jobs do not require bachelor’s degrees and with nearly 1.5 million craft professionals needed by 2023, it is more important than ever to get high school students interested in the industry. Associated Builders and Contractors of Virginia estimates that the workforce will demand 177,748 workers in Virginia by the year 2021. The projected job growth in Virginia in the construction industry is up 21%. Tomlin says “Careers in the construction industry offer financial freedom through high salaries and affordable education options.”

NCCER is an education foundation that offeres training curricula, assessments, and credentials for more than 70 crafts, through 6,000 NCCER-accredited facilities. BIY is a recruitment initiative working to find the next generation of craft professionals and close the skills gap and labor shortage in the construction industry.

CATEC is a regional technical education center that helps high school students and adults obtain the jobs they seek. Students have opportunities to practice hands-on and work-based learning activities alongside academically-driven curricula. CATEC prides itself on its built-in value, equity-based programs, and contribution to students' learning journeys.