Hundreds of high school students from six parishes got a first-hand look at the potential construction careers available in Southwest Louisiana during Construction Career Days 2018.
The two-day event took place Oct. 23 and 24 at the Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. ABC currently has 15 different classes throughout Southwest Louisiana where high school juniors and seniors can earn National Center for Construction Education and Research credentials.
Many students who attended the event have already chosen a career and technical education pathway for the rest of their time in high school as part of the state’s Jumpstart initiative, said Blaise Theard, workforce development specialist.
Letting students see the educational possibilities after high school is important because construction career professionals are in high demand, and ABC has a direct line of contact with the area’s industries and contractors, Theard said. Students already enrolled in a Jumpstart course with ABC may only need a few months worth of training upon graduation to begin working.
“We are steered by the plants and contractors as to what they need and what’s in demand,” he said. “We’re only training for jobs that are out there.”
The students learned about specific crafts and trades that maintain the area’s plants: welding, millwright, electrical instrumentation, pipe fitting, scaffolding building and heavy equipment operating.
Students said they enjoyed seeing what the “real work” looks like.
While touring the facilities, they were able to touch, test and question the various hands-on equipment available at the training center.
“We are committed to training the next generation of construction workers,” said Kirby Bruchhaus, director of education, noting the increased need for local skilled laborers.
“When all of this started, there were about 4,200 people working in maintenance. Now, when it’s all said and done, we’re thinking that it’s probably going to go up to 8,500 to 9,500. The need’s going to almost double.”