Building the Construction Workforce of the Future

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Landing a job in construction might be easier right now than ever before.The industry is struggling to find skilled employees.

So builders are trying something new - hold an open house and invite high school students to learn about building.

According to Missouri's Job Center's Workforce Survey, more than 80% of local companies can't find workers with the kind of skills needed in the building industry.  That's why they invited about 900 students to the fairgrounds.

Students put their skills to the test and got the chance to see what it was like working in construction.

"There's a lot of things you wouldn't normally think about, pretty interesting," says Republic High School sophomore Spenser Waller.

Waller says it's a glimpse into what to expect in the field.

"I think it gives me great exposure like see what I like and see what I don't, see If I find anything interesting."

For future welder Cody Comeau, a junior at Galena High School, it gives him hands on experience to learn the ins and outs of the industry.

"I think hands on is better than just looking at a book at what you're doing.  Hands on just helps you learn better about it," says Comeau.

Derick Barnes is part of the Heavy Construction Laborers Union. He says this workshop is vital for students to keep their vision towards the future.

"This is the solution. These are the things that are getting kids identified with maybe some misconceptions of what construction is about. Maybe having a  limited idea in their minds of what construction was," says Barnes.

He says it  brings students together for an opportunity who may not decide to go to college.

"For kids that college is not an option and is really not even a thought this shows them this is a career outside of college."

And to actively connect with industry professionals.

"To see the kids face light up and so as they walk away from here you give them almost a thirst for many what was that all about?And they want more."

Organizers say they are struggling to fill jobs in construction.

Megan Short is the Communication Coordinator at the Missouri Career Center. She tells KOLR10,"We need more workers because construction drives economic growth. if we can't continue with building then we can't have those business expansions."

And hoping they'll see the options this industry holds.

"With that hands on experience they're able to say hey I'm actually really good at this or I didn't realize brick laying actually can be fun."

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