Many Wake County high school students plan to attend college after graduation.
But some local construction businesses want teenagers to consider another option.
About 100 Wake County high school students visited Bobbitt Design Build in Raleigh recently to see the kinds of high-paying jobs that are available in the construction industry. It’s part of the WakeEd Partnership’s Career Accelerator Program that’s giving 400 students a chance to learn more about jobs in different fields such as construction, the hospitality industry, health care and information technology.
“There’s fantastic careers to be had in the construction industry that are rewarding that you can get into and make money and have a successful career without being a four-year college student and the debt that would be associated with that,” said Shane Wycuff, business development and sales manager at David Allen Company, one of the companies at Bobbitt’s event. “Construction careers allow you to earn an income while learning your career and trade.”
Career Accelerator is a new two-week summer program being offered by WakeEd, a business-backed, non-profit advocacy group that supports public education. WakeEd is partnering with 40 businesses and organizations to teach students skills such as how to build resumes, handle job interviews and avoid social media blunders.
Students are also visiting the businesses. On Tuesday, students toured places such as Bobbitt, Delta Airlines, Amazon and Chik-fil-A.
On Thursday, students visited locations such as the N.C. Department of Transportation, Triangle Esports Academy and the Ashley Christensen Group. Upcoming visits include UNC Rex Hospital, John Deere, Duke Energy and Martin Marietta.
“We want students to at least be aware of what the opportunities are, how much they pay, what does it take to get there and give them opportunities to think about what they want to do next,” said Keith Poston, president of WakeEd.
Construction labor shortage
Tuesday’s visit to Bobbitt took place at a time when the construction industry is desperately short of skilled workers.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on college,” said Jason Titocci, operations manager of the construction division at Advance Concrete. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but in the trades we’re missing so much. There’s not a lot of people coming in the trades like there has been.”
To entice students, Brian Denisar, the president and CEO of Bobbitt, reached out to several subcontractors to offer hands-on activities. The teens rotated through stations doing things such as as creating mosaic tiles, building a dog house and bending conduit.
“They’re going around and they’re doing the work. So we’re not telling them about the careers, we’re showing them,” Denisar said. “They’re the ones physically building the firepit. They’re the ones cutting the concrete. I’ve been seeing a lot of smiles.”
In between working with students, Titocci answered questions about how they could make six-figure salaries in the construction industry.
Finding a career path
The program comes at a time when many students are still undecided about their future plans. That’s why the teens agreed to give up part of their summer break.
“I wanted to get introduced to different career paths,” said Parthavi Joshi, 15, a rising sophomore at the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy. “I’m a really indecisive person, especially when it comes to where I want to go in the future. I hope this would help me either decide that or prepare for different opportunities.”
Mahi Shinde, 14, a rising sophomore at Panther Creek High School, said she signed up for the program to get to know more things about the real world. But she said construction is not where she expects to go.
“It is definitely something that I think a lot of people would enjoy doing if they like to do hands-on stuff,” Shinde said. “But I am more of a person that is like a computer technology type of person, so it’s not something I would enjoy.”
But the construction activities definitely appealed to Vik Reddy, 16, a rising junior at Panther Creek High.
“We’re coming out here and learning a lot of new skills,” Reddy said. “Everything from concrete putting to tilemaking and it’s really interesting, especially for me because my dad has been a carpenter as a hobbyist.
“It’s cool to see all of that take place in an industrial setting instead of more of like a residential one.”
Read the full article here