Oct 22, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Career day at the Fair shines a light on construction field for students
More than 400 area high school students attended a career fair at the Empire Expo Center last week to explore education, employment and manufacturing exhibits related to skilled construction work.
The second annual Syracuse Area Construction Career Day on Thursday Oct. 16 at the Fairgrounds joined students from across the region with colleges, industry leaders and manufacturers to inform students about the availability of construction careers. Outside the Pepsi International Building, a variety of construction equipment was available for students to explore and operate.
Many participating students in attendance were already working towards a construction career. Amber Ricker, of Phoenix said after climbing down from a backhoe that she was currently training to be a constructional welder. At the career day Ricker said she learned a lot about the safety aspect of the construction field.
Seniors from East Syracuse Minoa also said they also were already training in school for construction-based careers, and took advantage to the expo last week to learn about college programs in the field.
Other students were more interested in what awaited them outside the building, where they were able to explore various types of construction equipment and in many cases run the machinery.
Jasmine Brown, a tenth grader at SRA, said she had not been considering a future in the field until she had the chance to run a Bobcat Thursday.
“That was fun,” Brown said after ten minutes of pushing gravel.
According to the National Construction Career Days Center, about 952,000 vacancies in skilled construction jobs throughout the United States stand to be filled. The average construction worker in the United States is 48 years old and as baby boomers age towards retirement the younger work force is primed to fill the openings.
“It’s an industry a lot of students might not be aware of,” said Karen Knapik-Scalzo, associate economist for Workforce New York said.
Construction firms are on the lookout for employable people with more than a high school education, said Nick Hanslowe of the New York State Department of Labor.
“Construction is not a catch-all for the second string,” he said. “A lot of students and educators, and parents, fall into that mindset.”
Hanslowe said one of the advantages of a career day was to show students that skilled construction jobs require high math and reading skills, and higher education is a definite advantage in the field.
Knapik-Scalzo, said one of the goals of the career day was to introduce students to the options within the skilled construction field, and show them that the field generally pays very well and that workers are in demand. She and Hanslowe agreed that this second year, a lot more interest seemed to be generated among students.
“There are a lot more students, more politicians and media,” said Hanslowe. “There is a lot more construction in general in the Syracuse area.”
“The construction industry needs youth,” said Dudley Sutton, of Clay. Sutton was at the career day representing Vantage Equipment, and said he was seeing a lot of interest from young people in the heavy equipment on display. “There is always work for them if they want to learn a trade.”