Operation Workforce Recruitment

ABC members encourage high school students to consider skilled trades career

According to ABC National, the construction industry had 383,000 job openings in April. ABC chief economist, Anirban Basu says that demand for construction workers remained elevated in April despite an array of economic headwinds.
“There are signs that higher interest rates have dampened demand for construction services, especially in the residential segment, yet contractors continue to struggle to fill open positions. Overall, 4.6% of construction positions were unfilled in April, a significantly higher rate than the pre-pandemic average of 2.2%,” Basu said.
SEMCA director of education, Marissa Downs says career fairs, classroom visits and field trips are a big focus to build up the workforce this year and they’re not alone. Downs has seen more ABC members getting involved with schools to recruit more workers.
“We’ve been making our way through high schools to attend career fairs and host construction exposure field trips at SEMCA. Our team has already been to over 20 high schools and hosted 180 high school seniors and juniors for field trips in 2023,” said Downs. “It’s been an effective way to showcase an alternative path after high school and can be a valuable pipeline for local contractors.”
While out at career fairs, some ABC members know just the right way to reach high school seniors and draw their eye to their construction booth. The team at M.L. Chartier brought along an excavator sand toy and set up a rodeo to showcase the dexterity it takes to be a heavy equipment operator. Students at the Operation Senior career fair had to transfer plastic balls from one pool to another to test their accuracy and speed.
“We knew if we had an activity at the booth and then turned it into a competition, it would be a great introduction to talking to seniors about construction,” said M.L. Chartier’s project and environmental development manager, Matt Lawrence. “Heavy equipment can be a fun aspect about construction, but there is a lot of skill that goes into it. We wanted seniors to experience themselves that this isn’t a job you can walk on site and immediately operate this equipment. It takes a lot of skill and training to get there, and it’s a career to be proud of.”
Getting involved in more high school fairs, field trips and classroom visits will continue to be an integral part in growing the workforce and providing more options to graduating seniors. ABC members wanting to take part in high school career fairs are encouraged to reach out to Kelly at kforrester@abcsemi.org to get informed about ones near you.