By Stephen Toups, Senior Vice President of Turner Industries mikeRowe_051214 (2)Earlier this year, Turner Industries teamed up with Mike Rowe (previous host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”), NCCER and Build Your Future (BYF) at the USA Science & Engineering Festival to deliver the message that there are numerous skilled craft career opportunities in the construction industry. Turner employees showcased Mike Rowe’s statement that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) should actually include skills, thus making it STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and SKILLS). According to the Brookings Institution report, “The Hidden STEM Economy,” half of all STEM jobs are in manufacturing, health care or construction industries, and skilled jobs in the construction industry frequently demand STEM knowledge. These jobs do not require a four-year college degree, and they pay 10 percent more than jobs with similar educational requirements. However, only one-fifth of the federal funding for STEM education and training supports sub-bachelor’s level training. If this funding is available, then it should support all training fully, regardless the level of degree or certificate program. At our booth in the mikeroweWORKS Pavilion of the festival, we discussed the connection a skilled workforce has with STEM education. Children were encouraged to sign their name on a LEGO® brick to add to a work-in-progress structure during the three-day festival. Our message was simple: We are contractors, and we employ skilled craft workers. They build the facilities that produce things that people need and use every day.  You can be a part of something BIG by signing a brick and adding it to something that will grow bigger. Nearly 5,000 children visited the Turner Industries/NCCER booth, signed a brick and learned about skilled craft careers. The exercise attracted a lot of attention, as Mike Rowe visited the booth multiple times, he added his signature to the structure and referenced it in a number of his presentations. The structure is now traveling around the country visiting industry-related events highlighting the value and need for skilled crafts. In 2015, it will be auctioned off by Mike Rowe, and all proceeds will go toward funding skilled craft scholarships. The entire journey can be found and followed at  

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.