For more than a decade, the construction industry has recognized a continuing shortage of new, skilled workers. In fact, industry experts predict that by 2012 there will be more than 1 million unfilled jobs. To curb this trend, two Indiana groups — the Building Contractors Association (BCA) and the ACE Mentor Program of Indiana — are introducing high school students to the challenges and rewards of careers in the construction field.
BCA, based in Fort Wayne, Ind., recently graduated 39 students from 13 area high schools from its 2006–07 Construction Career Academy (CCA). The program educates students about 16 commercial construction industry trades and professions. According to BCA, students receive valuable one-on-one interaction with construction company owners and trade professionals who share their personal paths to success in their construction careers.
The Workforce Development & Education Committee of BCA first sponsored the CCA in 2001. Curriculum for the program is developed around the construction process used in erecting commercial and industrial buildings. It consists of three, four-hour sessions scheduled over a five-month period during the school year. The first session highlights professions and trades that are engaged in the initial stages of construction, including designer, general contractor, estimator, and project manager. Presentations for the second and third sessions are scheduled based on the trades' normal appearance on the construction timeline.
Recent graduates of the CCA program had an opportunity to apply for $750 scholarships or achievement awards.
In May, the ACE Mentor Program of Indiana awarded a total of $32,000 in scholarships to students from George Washington Community School, Northwest High School and Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. The ACE Mentor Program, in its second year in Indy, provides students with a first-hand look at the engineering, construction and architectural world.
The ACE Mentor Program was formed in New York in 1991. Now in its 16th year, the program has migrated to more than 91 cities and has awarded more than $5.4 million in scholarships nationwide, including the $20,000 in scholarships the Indianapolis affiliate awarded in 2006.
According to ACE, the mentoring program is a partnership among leading schools and universities, architects, interior designers, engineers, construction managers, professional organizations, and related companies. Design and construction professionals reach out to interested high school students and encourage them, through mentoring and scholarships, to pursue careers in the building industry.