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BYF and CEF’s Construction Career Day Hits Home Again!

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The following article was authored by Elizabeth McPherson and originally published on Construction Citizen.

The annual Build Your Future Construction Career Day hosted by Construction Education Foundation (CEF) was rescheduled due to extreme weather from last October to April 18, 2019.  As storms raged across the Dallas/Ft Worth area again on April 17, organizers, sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, educators, and students wondered if the event would have to be cancelled entirely.  Eventually, a break in the weather allowed the event to be held amid light rain and heavy wind. Over 1000 high school juniors and seniors interested in construction as a career from 35 schools around the DFW area interacted with 81 construction companies during the day.  There were demonstrations and hands-on activities for the high schoolers to touch and feel. The purpose of the event was to introduce the students to the benefits of choosing a career in the construction industry.

At one of the outside stations, McCarthy’s Michael Steinkamp explained the Task Hazard Analysis (THA) board that students were signing. He said that a Task Hazard Analysis breaks down the task of what a job requires, listing all of the hazards associated with that job – all of the things that could possibly injure someone.  “We want to make sure all of our personnel go home every night.”  The THA also breaks down all of the safety procedures required for the job.  He explained that on a jobsite, the General Foreman would sign the THA first, and then each member of the work team would sign.  If the task or condition changes, a new THA would be required.

I also spoke with Sam Harrison, a teacher at Plano East Senior High School. I asked why he had brought his students to the event. He answered:

“A lot of my students are either looking for what to do or looking for a job to do what they want to do, and this is the best opportunity that I have found to give them that – the context that they need. … It is amazing.  They get a lot out of it.  I think it is worth coming, or I wouldn’t bring them.”

Harrison said that juniors in high school need to be figuring out what they want to do, and he wishes that there were more events like the Construction Career Day available for them to attend.

Back inside the training center, Jane Hanna, President/Executive Director of Construction Education Foundation, introduced me to Jonathan Sacks, who had travelled all the way from Maine to observe this event.  Sacks is a Power and Energy Training Manager at Cianbro, and is the current NCCER Workforce Development Committee Chair.  He is also a past winner of the ABC National Craft Instructor of the Year award.  I asked what he thought about the day’s event.  He said:

“It’s great to see all of these young people here seeing our industry and talking to people within our industry and understanding it a little better.”  I mentioned that I had observed that many of the students had made contacts with possible future employers, and Sacks agreed “Well, that’s the idea.  Some of them don’t have a clue as to what we do in our industry.  This gets them to talk to real people who are out here making their living and enjoying it – having a good career.”

Hear these interviews, but please forgive the extreme wind noise in the 3-minute video below.

Bonus video: Local ABC affiliate WFAA Channel 8 also covered this event!

The purpose of the Construction Education Foundation of North Texas is to provide the construction industry with the most qualified technically trained people, from Craft Workers to the Supervisory level.  CEF also provides the entire construction community with a funding mechanism to meet the needs of contractors and owners.

The Construction Career Day at the DFW Training Center in Irving, Texas was organized to introduce select, local students who have shown interest in construction to the exciting opportunities in the industry.  Teachers hand-picked students who had earned the chance to attend the event.