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MLSoC Working to Bolster Construction Industry Labor Force

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Date: Jan 08th, 2016 / Author: Josh Iorio, Ph.D. /

According to the Associated General Contractors of America's Workforce Survey of more than 1000 companies in the construction industry, 88% of construction companies surveyed indicated that they were having a hard time filling key professional and trade worker positions in 2014. 70% of companies surveyed believe that the difficulty in hiring qualified personnel will either stay the same or become more difficult in the near future. For Virginia, the results are even more pronounced, with 95% of companies indicating difficulty in hiring, particularly in the trades. 100% of companies surveyed indicated that they had difficulty hiring qualified bricklayers and plumbers, while 75% had difficulty in hiring masons and iron workers. These results suggest a clear need to improve efforts that encourage high school students to pursue the wide variety of careers in the construction industry.

In response to this need, the Myers-Lawson School of Construction (MLSoC) has partnered with the Fauquier County Public School System, Lord Fairfax Community College, the Department of Economic Development for Fauquier County and local industry leaders to develop a course titled "Careers in Design, Construction and Operations of the Built Environment". The course is designed for high school students and will be piloted in Spring 2016 at Southeastern Alternative School in Midland, VA. The purpose of the course is to encourage students to pursue careers in the industry by providing them with hands-on experience through field trips and industry classroom workshops. Student mentors include trade workers, contractors, project managers, and executives involved in design, construction and operations of the built environment. The instruction is centered around a design project where students will design a structure that meets a community need and then model the structure both physically and virtually. The semester culminates in a mock career fair where students will practice interviewing and preparing resumes for a career in the industry.

Program leadership is comprised of stakeholders from industry, high schools, community colleges and universities in Virginia, including Dr. Josh Iorio (Assistant Director, MLSoC), Walter Story (Owner, Story Group and MLSoC Industry Affiliates Board member), Miles Friedman (Director of Economic Development, Fauquier Co.), Dr. David Jeck (Superintendent, Fauquier Co. Public School System), Jeanian Clark (Vice President, Workforce Solutions, Lord Fairfax Community College), and Regina Miller (Principle, Miller Brothers Inc.). Industry mentors and workshop leaders include representatives from Leo A. Daly, Gordon, Golden Rule Builders, BOWA, Appleton-Campbell, Carson-Ashley, and Ross Industries.