There are career fairs, and then there’s Construction Career Days.
Construction Career Days (CCD) is a one or two day event where students experience firsthand what it’s like to work in the transportation construction industry. Instead of wearing dress clothes and collecting brochures like at a typical career fair, students at CCD actually perform activities like designing and load testing bridges, using surveying and GPS devices, figuring out drainage problems, and operating construction machinery and equipment, just to name a few. All of this occurs under the supervision of industry professionals, who are there not only to provide knowledge and ensure safety, but to show students the wide range of opportunity for successful, fulfilling careers in the many fields offered by the construction industry.
“The general public has limited knowledge about the construction industry," Martinez said. "People see construction as a pick and shovel industry. In other words, that jobs are low-paying, under-skilled, transitional jobs where you just get a job there until you can find a better job elsewhere. And that is the furthest thing from the truth. So we decided to do this to actually show youth the real truth about the industry and the rich diversity of rewarding careers that it offers."
“Martinez and his colleagues decided that the best way to give students a realistic picture of the construction industry was to have a career fair. But not just any career fair.
“Everyone has career fairs,” Martinez said.
With the notion that hands-on participation would engage students and give them a better idea of what construction industry careers involve, the four colleagues created an event where students could not only meet industry professionals, but could actually perform activities associated with the wide diversity of careers offered by the industry. The first Construction Career Day was held in Lewisville Texas in the spring of 1999. The event was attended by over 1,000 high school students, and phones were soon ringing off the hook from other communities who wanted a CCD event.
“The word spread like wildfire,” Martinez said. “We were inundated with calls.”
The next year, nine CCD events were held in six states. The year after that, 22 occurred in nine states. Last year, 48 events occurred in 28 states.???
“We had never envisioned taking this beyond our local area, then all of a sudden here we are putting on workshops on how to set up and how to plan, design and host an event. ? We’ve put over 540,000 students through. ? Some events run as many as six, eight, nine-thousand students,” Martinez said.
Aside from informing students about transportation construction careers, CCD events are also a source of recruitment for the construction industry, which means that students can walk away with real education and employment opportunities.
“There is some hiring going on. There’s also a lot of recruitment from engineering schools, construction management programs ? apprenticeship programs, unions?a lot of their apprenticeship vacancies are filled through the kids that attend construction career days,” Martinez said.
Overall, CCD is a fun way for students to learn more about the wide range of career opportunities in the construction industry, which will only increase in demand in the years to come.
“All of a sudden a whole world of additional career options opens up to students, and that’s what we’re about,” Martinez said.
You can visit the National Construction Career Days Center website for more information on CCD, to watch video of a CCD event, or to find out when and where a CCD event will be occurring near you. While you’re visiting the website, make sure to check out the list of college scholarship opportunities that are available for students who want to study construction or engineering.