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Colorado honored October as Careers in Construction Month

The industry received statewide recognition from a proclamation issued by Governor Jared Polis, designating October as Careers in Construction month.

As we enter the fourth quarter of this historic calendar year, the construction industry has remained resilient and has still found ways to honor its construction professionals. During the month of October, the industry received statewide recognition from a proclamation issued by Governor Jared Polis, designating October as Careers in Construction month. This is the fifth year in a row the governor of Colorado has issued this proclamation that is intended to “increase public awareness and appreciation of construction craft professionals and the entire construction workforce.”

Michael Gifford CREJ Speaker

Michael Gifford, MPA, IOM President, Associated General Contractors of Colorado

This continued support from the state of Colorado was demonstrated earlier this year, when on March 26, Gov. Polis issued the first mandatory stay-at-home order that deemed construction professionals as essential workers to support Colorado’s economy. Fast-forward to August of 2020, when the Associated General Contractors of America released their 2020 Workforce Survey that demonstrated despite the economic impacts of COVID-19 that have caused a decrease in demand for construction projects overall, there is still a strong need for construction craft professionals. The survey results for the State of Colorado revealed that while 74% of Colorado construction firms have projects that have been halted, postponed or canceled, 44% of firms are still reporting difficulty filling construction craft positions.

In order to support this ever-present need for essential workers, the AGC of Colorado’s Construction Education Foundation of Colorado concentrated their construction workforce development efforts into three main programs that include Careers in Construction, the High School Construction Connection and Construction Careers Now. Each program pivoted to offer virtual training opportunities to keep supplying the construction industry the workforce it relies on.

Careers in Construction

Careers in Construction began in 2015, when AGC of Colorado partnered with the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs to bring skilled vocational education back in high schools, starting in El Paso County. Since then, CIC now includes a full high school construction program available to school districts throughout Colorado. As the pandemic necessitated a virtual format, CEF Colorado shifted the CIC program to now support school districts via online meetings and events to continue offering construction career pathways.

As of August, the program has 20 participating high schools with 1,200 students enrolled. These schools include:

Denver Metro Region                                        

  • Adams City High School (Adams 14)                                                
  • CEC (Denver Public Schools)                                                
  • Cherry Creek Innovation Center (Cherry Creek School District)
  • FutureForward at Washington Square (Adams 12)      
  • Riverdale Ridge High School (27J School District)      
  • Vista Peak Prep (Aurora Public Schools)
  • Thompson Career Campus (Thompson R2-J)      
  • Warren Tech (Jefferson County School District)      
  • Westminster High School (Westminster Public Schools)

Colorado Springs

  • Atlas Preparatory Academy
  • Coronado High School
  • Custer County High School
  • Liberty High School
  • Manitou Springs High School
  • Mesa Ridge High School
  • Mitchell High School
  • Patriot Learning Center
  • Power Technical Early College
  • Pueblo County High School
  • Widefield High School

High School Construction Connection

Another program aimed at high school students is the High School Construction Connection (HSCC) program. This program connects teams of industry volunteers with participating high schools to serve as guides to careers in construction. There are currently 32 high schools throughout the front range area that are participating in HSCC.

To support high schools during Careers in Construction Month this year, CEF Colorado worked with members of AGC of Colorado to provide a series of virtual jobsite tours in October. The virtual program initiatives also include a virtual career pathways fair in November, along with virtual panel discussions and “Career Chats” in December. 

Construction Careers Now

Construction Careers Now is a post-high school pre-apprenticeship training program that provides construction basics training and includes a Hiring Fair with each four-week cohort. CCN has graduated 1,423 participants and added over 800 hired construction craft professionals since it began in September of 2016. CCN has graduated a diverse population of new construction professionals, representing 20% females, 22% African Americans, 30% Hispanics, and 2% of American Indians and Asian Americans, respectively.

CCN offered its first fully virtual program in April, complete with a virtual Hiring Fair during which construction firms provided a meet-and-greet overview of their companies and had the opportunity to speak directly with interested candidates. Since going virtual, CCN has increased its female population to 26% of its graduates, well above the 10.3% of female construction workers as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. CCN has offered five virtual training sessions in total since April 2020 with steady classes of 35 to 45 graduates.

 

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.