By Rebekah Morris for AZBEX
In early November 2019, a record-setting 6,800 high school students from across Arizona took part in the annual Construction Career Days event. This free two-day event enabled students to preview many facets of the construction industry in a hands-on and fun environment. The variety of careers and opportunities with and without a college education were highlighted with the goal being to promote industry careers at a time when the construction workforce shortage is hitting critical mass.
The event is organized in Phoenix by the non-profit organization Arizona Construction Career Days and Executive Director Rose Ann Canizales. More than 3,600 students from 106 schools across 10 counties attended the Phoenix event this year.
In 2014 a complementary event was created to service the southern part of the state, supported by Arizona Transportation Builders (ATB) and led by Committee Chair Ramon Gaanderse. This year, more than 3,000 students from 87 schools attended the Southern Arizona Construction Career Days.
The Arizona National Guard hosts the event in Phoenix each year at the Papago Park location. The space is ideally situated for such a large-scale event, with plenty of spots for industry participation. Contractors bring equipment, tools and staff to showcase typical activities of construction industry tradespeople.
Industry support for the event this year also surpassed previous records. With more than 90 exhibitors and sponsors for the Phoenix location, and more than 125 construction firms supporting the event in Tucson, the industry is demonstrating a commitment to encourage the next generation to seriously consider the construction industry as a viable career path to a comfortable salary with no student loan debt.
The Arizona Construction Career Days events are just one of many efforts to attract future workers to the industry. In September 2019, a launch event was held by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce called Build Your Future Arizona. These and other programs, engagement and outreach events aim to change the conversation about technical and skilled labor positions as an alternative to a four-year degree. Primary benefits of skilled and technical professions include a very high wage potential, little to no student loan debt, career advancement opportunities, and a pride of workmanship.