As you probably have experienced, employment is often a struggle for contractors.
Good help can be hard to find in general — but it seems to be particularly challenging when it comes to retaining and recruiting young people.
At EPAC, we’re committed to inspiring, encouraging, and training the next generation of skilled workers to keep El Paso’s construction industry strong.
Why Is Construction Industry Recruitment Challenging?
As you (and we!) know, trade work is valuable, rewarding, and vital to our community.
But in the construction industry, it’s often challenging to find enough skilled workers to meet the demand for projects. As many experienced workers (ahem) begin to approach retirement age, it’s essential to pass on valuable skills and knowledge and seek out the next generation of leaders in our industry.
However, recruiting the new generation can be challenging. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. A One-Size-Fits All Approach To Going to a Four-Year College
For decades, society has promoted a “one-size-fits-all” approach toward young adults attending traditional, four-year colleges. Young people have been encouraged to go to a university — but the truth is, that’s not the best fit for everyone.
2. A Tendency for Young People To Be Less “Hands-On”
Today’s young people have grown up in an increasingly digital, technology-driven world. For some, this ever-present technology has led to less hands-on experience with trade skills.
Younger generations might also mistakenly believe that trade work doesn’t have a place in a world driven by technology — when the truth is that technology in construction is a growing and exciting field! Helping the next generation understand how their interests intersect with trade work can boost our construction industry recruitment efforts.
3. Lack of Exposure and Information
Young people aren’t always aware of the opportunities and benefits of trade work. They may not have exposure or access to vocational training programs — or the information they need to explore these exciting career prospects!
4. Lack of Mentorship and Role Models
Unfortunately, young people don’t always have role models in the construction industry. Without these mentors, it can be challenging for the new generation to envision themselves with successful careers in our field.
Meeting Challenges to Construction Industry Recruitment
Trade work is as valuable as it’s always been, but it’s important to make information about vocational education available to the new generation.
And many in the Southwest are doing just that! Here’s how:
Education is a key to busting myths about vocational work and helping young people find jobs they’ll love.
The truth is that college isn’t for everyone. Students should have the freedom to pursue trade jobs (like plumbing and electric), which offer great money and are always in demand!
Here in the Borderland, the El Paso Independent School District’s (EPISD) Vocational School is a pioneer in helping students prepare for futures in vocational work. Founded over 100 years ago, it was the first magnet school in EPISD. They have twenty-seven programs, twenty-six of which offer state or national licenses or certifications. Some of the programs can even give students dual credit at El Paso Community College.
And high schools in the Socorro Independent School District (SISD) have the Innovative Advanced Academic Academies with internships offering specialized training, classes, and real-world experience to students. This education can open young people’s eyes to their options and help with construction industry recruitment.
EPAC also offers educational opportunities through our Apprenticeship Program (more on that in a second!).
It’s fantastic that schools have vocational programs. We want to build on this by connecting individuals with training shortly after they graduate.
At EPAC, we work to be a visible and positive force in our community.
Through community involvement and events like our annual Toy Drive, we strive to be the positive role models in the construction community that young people need.
To help students understand their options and the value of construction work, EPAC will be working with EPISD this fall.
In addition to working with schools to help students understand vocational career options, EPAC plans to have a presence at job fairs for upcoming and recent graduates.
By reaching out to our community, we hope to inspire the next generation and do our part to keep El Paso’s construction community vibrant.
There are many opportunities for a wonderful, fulfilling career in vocational work.
EPAC’s Apprenticeship Program is a powerful way to invest in the next generation of skilled workers (and it also helps in El Paso’s construction industry recruitment!). Too often, our best and brightest end up leaving the area to pursue advancement opportunities. We want to give them the option to get that training (and stay) here.
The El Paso Apprenticeship Program offers training in twenty-two different trades, including electrical, plumbing, carpentry, ironwork, painting, drywall, cement masonry, and heavy equipment operation.
Our program has been certified by the Department of Labor for almost 25 years, and it includes a mix of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Through apprenticeship training, we help participants complete the education and work hours they need for certification in their chosen trade.
When they finish, they receive their journeyman certificate, which opens the door for employment as an apprentice anywhere in the country.
A Bright Future for the City’s Construction Industry
Yes, there are challenges to recruiting and retaining the next generation of El Paso’s skilled workers. But EPAC and others are working hard to help young people get the information and training they need to explore their career options.
By investing in our community and new skilled workers, we can inspire and support our industry — and help build El Paso’s future.