Building the Future: Inspiring the Next Generation of Construction Professionals through Education

The construction industry is booming now, and with it there is a shortage of workers in the construction trades as well construction professional positions. This shortage can have a negative impact on the quality, cost, and duration of building projects.

One way to combat this situation is to engage the generation that will greatly influence the industry’s success: high school students on the cusp of making career decisions. That was the impetus behind the development of Reynolds’ student education program, which uses active school construction projects as the centerpiece of its educational component.

Last year, Reynolds introduced the program to three Pennsylvania school districts where Reynolds is managing new construction or addition/renovation projects: Altoona Area (new high school), Peters Township (new high school), and Cornwall-Lebanon (elementary school addition/renovation). Sessions at several other districts with active projects are planned in upcoming months.

The sessions consist of a presentation followed by a tour of the project in construction. Some of the elements included in the sessions are:

  • Introduction to the Design/Construction Industry – Although building construction is a large sector of the construction industry, there are many other sectors to consider, such as bridge and highway, industrial, and residential. Students review the various sectors and discuss different project delivery methods to learn what it takes to design and build a facility.
  • Construction Career Opportunities – Not everyone in construction wears a hard hat. Students learn about the many career opportunities that exist within the sectors, such as architecture, engineering, project management, or business development. What opportunities exist for tech-savvy students to influence the technology used in design and construction?
  • School-Specific Information – What does it take to build YOUR school? How is that the same or different from other schools? Students get a behind-the-scenes look at phasing plans, statistics, and other information that gives them a better understanding of the required coordination among construction team members.
  • Site Tour – Dressed in hard hats and vests, students go on-site to see for themselves what has been presented. During this time, the importance of job site safety is shared with the students.

Not only is the program bolstering the construction industry, it is supporting school curriculums. “The on-site learning opportunities provided by the Reynolds team were both fun and beneficial for our students,” said Dr. Jeannine French, superintendent of Peters Township School District. “The on-site visits allowed the students to experience in the field many of the concepts they had learned in the classroom. The students were able to see the lessons they learned in the classroom come to life on the construction site.”

Reynolds’ program sessions also support schools’ efforts to develop partnerships with industry experts to help guide curriculum and programming. “The on-site learning experiences were used to further promote our architectural engineering, computer aided design courses, and applied engineering courses,” Dr. French noted. “Industry partners, and experiences such as this, provide context to what our teachers teach and inspires students to consider new opportunities.”

Awakened to the possibilities that exist in construction careers, students are better positioned to make a construction-related choice. It’s a pleasure to walk them through what may be their first experience with construction and know that the industry might be gaining some inquisitive, bright, and eager additions someday soon.

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