Originally published in the San Diego Transcript
After several decades into your working life, you learn a lot about the difference between a job, and a career. As the President and CEO of HPS Mechanical, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a rewarding career in the construction industry. As board chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, one of my many goals is to fill the employee pipeline by encouraging talented men and women to pursue their own rewarding careers in the construction industry.
The opportunities have never been better to make a good living as a skilled construction professional. San Diegans are needed to build our homes, hospitals, workplaces, and schools. They are also critically needed to rebuild the neglected infrastructure in our communities including bridges, dams, schools, highways and streets, and public transit. One of the biggest obstacles to making it happen is the critical shortage of 500,000 skilled construction workers.
But so many people never get the message. In an effort to provide information about the potential for personal and professional success by pursing a career as a skilled construction craft professional, ABC San Diego opens its doors for its Career Day Open House on Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Our event provides an opportunity for high school students, their parents, military veterans, people looking for a career change, and educators including counselors and teachers to learn more about ABC San Diego’s training programs. ABC San Diego instructors and staff will offer presentations and be available to answer questions throughout the evening.
Few other industries are facing the talent crisis as the construction industry. How did we get here? Unfortunately, policymakers, administrators and educators too often subscribe to the “college-for-all” mentality. This leaves those graduates who cannot afford college or who find that college isn’t the right fit for them unsure about what’s next.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-third of the fastest growing occupations don’t require a bachelor’s degree or the enormous investment of time and money required. Through accredited career and technical education, individuals can earn an associate’s degree or a postsecondary vocational certificate, often through apprenticeship programs, ensuring they are adequately equipped with the skills to succeed in the workforce.
CTE works, and we need to invest in providing more Americans including our military veterans with educational opportunities that align with the careers that build and rebuild our communities. Nowhere is this need more acute than in the construction industry, where we must take action to help fill the skills gap created by an aging workforce that is retiring in greater numbers every year. Currently 19% of the construction workforce is over the age of 55 and these workers are expected to leave the industry for retirement.
Career training like the state and federal accredited program offered at the Associated Builders and Contractors Apprenticeship Training Academy in San Diego offers rigorous programs incorporating technical reading, mathematics, and science along with specific craft skills and safety training to prepare thousands of people for real-world careers.
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a workforce shortage of 1.6 million construction professionals by 2022. The construction industry’s need for workers is expected to grow twice as fast as the average across all industries over the next decade.
Eighty-seven percent of apprentices across all industries find employment after completing their training programs. Their average starting annual wage is above $50,000. Over the course of their lifetimes, workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than their peers who do not.
Employers benefit too. According to multiple studies, employers see significant returns through increased worker productivity, greater innovation, and reduced waste.
A recent study found that construction workers are the happiest employees of any industry – and it all starts through career and technical education programs. With continued professional education and experience, skilled craft professionals can rise through the industry to become supervisors, company executives or owners.
Let me personally invite you to take the first step in joining the next generation of craft professionals in an ever-expanding and technologically advanced workforce by joining us at our Open House on March 9. Learn more on the ABC San Diego website at abcsd.org
Les DenHerder is President and CEO of HPS Mechanical, Inc, and chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors San Diego board of directors. For more information visit www.abcsd.org