RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Eighty-six percent of construction companies in North Carolina have reported trouble filling open jobs, according to a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America.
On Tuesday, several companies came together for a new experience in hopes of fixing the problem.
The goal is to get high school students in Wake County interested in the trade. The hope is they will get involved and end up working with the companies that are desperate to find good, skilled workers.
“Lots of construction, as everyone knows, going on right now in Raleigh. Frankly, they have a shortage of workers. They have a challenge with it,” said Keith Poston, president of the WakeEd Partnership.
It’s a problem that has to be tackled piece by piece: building a new generation of craftsmen and construction workers.
“I look at Wake County Public Schools with 160,000 students – the workforce is here,” added Poston.
WakeEd Partnership’s new Career Accelerator Program focuses on immersing high school students in industries, trying to recover from the labor shortage.
“Every single one of these companies are looking to hire,” said Brian Denisar, the CEO and president of Bobbitt Construction.
Denisar organized the event after a dinner with the company’s sub-contractors who expressed concerns about a lack of workforce.
“If you don’t have the skilled workforce, then the work is not getting done, folks are going to charge more, and it’s going to get more expensive,” he added.
For many students, the event marked the first time they picked up a hammer, worked with electric wiring, or helped pour concrete.
“[We were] finding studs and [learned] how to properly put a nail into something,” said Nikolas Scymanski, a rising 11th grader at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School.
Some also discovered new possibilities for their future.
“It’s really inspiring. When I was little, I didn’t see a bunch of girls [in construction], but now there are so many more girls,” explained Rianna Gonsalves, a rising 11th grader at Green Level High School. “I guess I’ll see where it takes me.”
Over the two-week program, hundreds of Wake County 10-12th graders will experience different careers.
Some of the other companies involved in the partnership program include Delta Airlines, Amazon, and John Deere.
Poston told CBS17 he hopes the program can include middle schoolers next year.