WNC.Construction.tours14By Bob Ford, Senior Instructor at Western Nevada College With Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month upon us this February, I encourage secondary and postsecondary schools to not only collaborate with each other, but to also collaborate with local industry partners to attract young people to the construction industry. At Western Nevada College (WNC), we have been working with Nevada Department of Education’s Skilled and Technical Sciences Education Program to generate more interest and enrollment in secondary CTE programs throughout northern Nevada. The result of this collaboration was the creation of WNC’s Construction Academy, which was implemented during Careers in Construction Month last October. The Construction Academy was developed for high school students to engage in various construction applications that were not offered at their schools. Students worked alongside WNC construction faculty, apprenticeship coordinators, Association of Northern Nevada Plumbers, OSHA-certified professionals and WNC students. Participants conducted hands-on demonstrations for surveying, plumbing, scaffolding and tool technology. The Builders Alliance of Nevada, which represents more than 600 building contractors across the state, spoke to students about why they should pursue a career in construction. The message was simple: Construction career opportunities are limitless. WNC.Construction.tours13croppedAdditional events have been scheduled this spring to give local industry partners an opportunity to engage with students. We encourage industry partners to discuss career opportunities and present new technology to spark students’ interest in the industry. We want to build a bridge between the industry and secondary and postsecondary education. I am a firm believer that industry is the answer to the old question, “How can we gain interest from this younger generation in construction careers?” Our goal is to generate interest from industry partners and get them more involved in our high schools. This will allow young people to learn about construction career opportunities and get the training they need in high school and then at a community college. I have learned through past research programs with NCCER and Associated Builders and Contractors that interest can be generated when industry directly engages students with positive influencers. If we can get students interested in the industry, then they are more likely to enroll in a craft training program. Once students are interested, it is important to keep them motivated through outreach programs similar to WNC’s. Construction is coming back in Nevada, and many of the students we serve come from smart, hardworking, rural communities. It is these types of students who often succeed as craft professionals. The construction industry is a vital part of Nevada’s growth and offers many great opportunities for our students to have prosperous careers. Now is the time to fill the demand for skilled craft professionals with a strong and talented workforce. WNC will begin offering a dual credit program teaching NCCER’s Core Curriculum to high school seniors this fall. Students can earn 18 college credit hours and a paid internship. For more information on how to connect with local industry or education partners, visit pathways.nccer.org to view best practice profiles, guidance documents and a map detailing who to contact in your area.

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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.