Operating a mini excavator is commonplace for professionals on a construction job site, but for teenagers watching up close, it’s an exciting window into a rewarding career. Exposing local students to job opportunities in the skilled trades was one of the reasons why the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem (HBAWS) partnered with the Winston-Salem Chamber Construction Industry Council’s Construction Career Fair last fall. The event featured more than 40 local employers that provided hands-on learning experiences in fields such as masonry, diesel mechanics and interior design.
“The Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem proudly serves on the Winston-Salem Chamber Construction Council partnering on the regional Construction Career Fair every other year, as well as attending career fairs at local high schools,” said Beverly Kiser-Nutt, director of communications and member services, HBAWS. “HBAWS and the Chamber share the same vision for educating students about careers in the construction trades, increasing awareness in the community and finding a solution for the shortage of workers in the industry. The collaboration with the Chamber has provided us with a broader reach and more resources to address the issues and work together for the success of all of our members.”
More than 1,500 high school students in the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) and surrounding area attended the two-day Construction Career Fair at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. Most of the students who attended are currently enrolled in WS/FCS Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. The district’s CTE program provides a pipeline into higher education and employment opportunities in the skilled trades and has a 100% graduation rate among seniors taking four or more CTE credits.
“I feel like this is really good help for us seniors, especially for some that aren’t sure what they are passionate in or know what they want to do after high school…[now] if you don’t know what you want to do, this is a great possibility,” said participant Nicolas Vazquez-Segovia to Spectrum News.
In addition to real-world job scenarios, the Construction Career Fair participants were provided with information on the educational opportunities available at regional schools to earn the degree or certificate required for each industry. According to the Winston-Salem Chamber, the construction industry tops $17 billion in North Carolina, and many jobs are in high demand. Various careers in the skilled trades are expected to grow by 5,000-15,000 new jobs over the next 10 years, according to North Carolina Department of Commerce employment data.