Construction industry facing worker shortage, needs help

Construction industry facing worker shortage, needs help

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Southern Arizona Construction Career Days is being held at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds Wednesday and Thursday October 25 & 26, 2017.

The two day event will draw as many as 1,500 Tucson area high school students in an effort to find some who might be interested in a career in the trades.

The students are given hands-on experiences with heavy equipment, welding, masonry, carpentry and engineering.

While the industry has changed in recent years with many jobs now requiring some post secondary education, many do not.

"There's jobs here that need hands-on job training," said Ramon Gaanderse, "Types of training that don't necessarily mean you have to have good grades or go to a four-year college."

High students have been encouraged and in some cases pressured to attend colleges and universities in recent years, which has taken its toll on the trades industries.

The collapse of the housing industry also contributed to the lack of jobs in trades and so far, it has not come back full strength.

"We are definitely lacking skilled labor and that's been kind of the trend for a while," Gaanderse said. "With people retiring and a younger generation that doesn't want to work outside, we're definitely at a skills gap right now."

It's hoped the Construction Career day will encourage some teenagers to consider the trades, especially when a starting salary can be $20 an hour.

It's an industry that has a definite gender bias with about 90 percent of the construction jobs held by men.

Cassidy Camp, a senior at J-TED, wants to become a general contractor. Even while in high school, she's taking classes at Pima Community College to learn basic construction, welding and business operations.

"Most guys think just because I'm a girl, that I don't know so much," she said. "But I can do about as much as any guy can."

17-year-old Julia Mullins is the only girl out of 16 students in her J-TED construction class and admits there's some pressure.

"Of course," she said. "But I like the pressure."

She adds, she's made to feel like she belongs and they treat her with respect.

"They don't treat me any different," she said. "The treat me just like one of the guys."

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