News: Construction career fair held for high school kids, Guard members assist in efforts
Story by Sgt. Lauren Twigg
PHOENIX - Banging hammers and heavy machinery echoed across PPMR as teenagers gathered around each booth displaying a different area of construction. The young people eagerly wait their turn to try out the jackhammer and the crane lift simulator.
The Arizona National Guard partnered with the Association for Construction Career Development and hosted the 11th annual Arizona Construction Career Days, here at Papago Park Military Reservation, Oct. 4 and 5.
The focus of the event was to attract young people from area high schools to start thinking about future education and career goals, and potentially pique their interest in starting a career in the construction industry.
“We want to get kids to see construction as a viable, profitable, honorable career,” said Rose Ann Canizales, president for ACCD. “We want to change the image that it’s not just about pounding a hammer – from carpentry to welding, there’s a whole list of things these kids could get interested in doing.”
With unemployment still a serious concern, it can be especially intimidating to those still in high school trying to choose a profession and figuring out what kind of education they need. This event gave these students at least one avenue of approach, with several roads to choose from.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent numbers regarding unemployment amongst those who have education backgrounds, about “1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or unemployed.” With statistics like this, it would be any wonder that trying to figure what profession to choose as a young adult can be painstaking.
“In this economy the perception is that there is nothing out there and that if you don’t have a college education you won’t be able to get a job,” said Maj. Peggy Grunewald, military liaison for this event. “This event is so important in order to show students that there are other options out there for them. I’m happy that our Arizona Guard was able to help put this on and support it.”
Among other things, even if a teen decides not to go to college now and still choose construction as his career, Canizales pointed out that this can open up a floodgate of opportunity to other methods of getting an education – and be successful.
The construction career fair is a unique opportunity since it gives a more intimate and engaging approach where students are able to try out a crane simulator or learn how to weld with welding professionals who offer demonstrations and actual equipment to try out. Tables are set out to learn and try their handiwork at building a basic tool box out of wood and nails as well as how to lay out a foundation for a building.
“This is not your typical career fair with pencils, pamphlets and gummy bears,” said David Milbauer, a representative from Sundt Construction. “Having them doing something with their hands, we have kids here pounding nails into wood, there’s a booth where kids are learning to bend conduit, so they can see it’s not as easy as it looks and with the proper training, they can get into a decent-paying profession.”
John Flannery, a parent of one of the students attending from Canyon Del Oro High School from Oro Valley has attended now for two years and finds the experience to be worthwhile and special for all young people getting ready for their futures.
“The kids get to come out and see all the different trades of construction and realize it doesn’t matter what profession you choose or what gender you are, within construction, you will be successful,” Flannery said. “Last year, some 12th graders got hired by companies on the spot so they had decent training and jobs waiting for them right outside of high school.”
Out of the many missions the Arizona National Guard must support, the biggest aspect is to support the community with positive-enforcement and improvements. Supporting an event such as this one proved to be an example of the AZNG’s efforts.
“I am so honored to have the relationship with the Arizona National Guard,” Canizales said. “It has been an outstanding partnership over the years, and this also opens up potential to offer jobs to service members exiting the military.”
Grunewald concurs with maintaining a strong bond with AZCCD, as this can also grab the students’ interest in joining the Army as a citizen soldier.
“The Guard has partnered up with these companies to also reach out to that same group of individuals to potentially give them options in joining the military as well, Grunewald, said. “In collaboration with ACCD, the Arizona National Guard provides the land, provides personnel and some equipment with setting up, and gladly assists with reaching out to kids in the community who are getting ready to take on a career path after high school.”
This year, the event hosted 65 schools from across Arizona and about 40 vendors from all different types of construction fields. Approximately 1,000 students attended this event during the two-days.
“The benefit is they get to have face time with contractors and apprenticeship programs and establish a relationship so they can walk in later on when they’re ready after high school and they’ve already established that relationship with that school or employer,” Canizales said. “The XY generation is different than most, there is the need for hands-on information – with this event they get that experience and so much more.”
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