The Challenge of Attracting Students to a Career in the Construction Industry
January 11, 2018
By Stacey Holsinger, Marketing Manager at Shapiro & Duncan, Inc.
“I have a story for you from this weekend!” my boss said to me with excitement. “I walked into Domino’s Pizza on Thanksgiving eve to pick up an easy dinner before a full day of cooking. I hear this tiny little voice say, ‘Grandpa, that’s the man, the man who does construction.’ The grandpa turned to me and said, ‘Do you know my granddaughter? She claims you were a guest speaker at her middle school. She really enjoyed your presentation and the (Build Your Future) career trading cards you gave her.'”
We made a lasting impression, I thought. Saturday Night Live (SNL) doesn’t know what they are talking about; construction is cool, at least this 8th grader thought so! The popular SNL show performed a funny skit the day after my boss and I teamed up to do Career Day at a local middle school in Maryland. The characters poked fun at the industry, particularly general contracting, from how unexciting company names are to describing the bid to construction process in uninspiring terms. This is the challenge we fight every day in the school system. How do we attract students to a career in the construction industry?
After eight years of participating in Career Days from elementary school to college, I’ve learned quite a few things from the students I taught. Below are some tips:
Challenge them: Ask the students how they perceive our industry today and why they think that way. Tell them how it has changed.
Know your audience:
Understand that not every student will be onboard with a speech on career and technical education so make sure to discuss other careers within our industry such as accounting, project management, marketing, business development, safety and IT. Explain how all departments work together. Make sure they know there is a place for everyone.
Bring innovative technology:
Show how your company is incorporating new technology such as smart phones, iPads, TVs vs. blueprints, building information modeling and prefabrication. Take it to the next level and show the SMART Helmet or Goggles. It will get them talking!
Provide a success story:
Tell a true story about someone in the industry who rose to success.
Make sure they have something to take home! Visit byf.org for some great materials. If they are excited enough about the presentation you gave, they are going to want to show mom, dad, grandma or grandpa.