IMG_7135_resizedBy Dan Belcher, Director of Workforce Development for NCCER Connecting secondary and postsecondary education with industry was the focus of NCCER’s Construction Careers Pathways Conference last November in Nashville, Tennessee. The event took place prior to the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) VISION Conference, and featured educators and industry representatives from throughout the U.S. as they discussed issues, heard exciting innovations in career and technical education (CTE) and shared best practices. The Construction Career Pathways Conference featured more than 140 educators, including administrators, counselors and teachers, and industry representatives, including owners, contractors and associations. Highlights of the conference included a state overview of Louisiana’s Jump Start program by secondary education, postsecondary education and the workforce commission. Jump Start is the state’s new program for education and industry to collaborate in providing career courses and workplace experiences to high school students and preparing them for career fields that lead to high-wage jobs. IMG_7160_resizedAnother highlight from the conference was a panel discussion from industry and education representatives about best practices that have been implemented to connect the two groups. Boyd Worsham, vice president of The Haskell Company said that while he cannot fill the skills gap by himself, he can do his part by hiring one, two or three of the best trained workers that are out there. Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA discussed the importance of industry involvement in career and technical student organizations. He said students who participate in SkillsUSA competitions and advance to the national competitions are the best of the best, so industry should support these programs. At the conference, education and industry representatives were asked to complete questionnaires and provide feedback about needs and opportunities from each group. Some of the responses included educators wanting more industry involvement on CTE advisory boards, as career day speakers and for internships and mentor programs. Industry representatives expressed interest in hosting project site visits, sponsoring NCCER Accredited Training and Education Facilities and serving on advisory boards. All of this information was then compiled into an interactive, industry and education connection map on the NCCER Construction Career Pathways website. The site also contains guidance documents and best practice profiles to facilitate effective collaboration. The Construction Career Pathways initiative is a major focus of NCCER’s and will continue to be for years to come. NCCER will be updating the website and hosting other events later in 2015, and we encourage anyone interested in participating, sharing a best practice or looking for more information to contact us.

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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.