An estimated 220 students from 12 different junior highs or middle schools in seven Eastern Iowa counties are expected to attend the third annual Build My Future-Explore ACE Career Day & Industry Showcase April 5.
The event is being held at the Kirkwood Continuing Education Training Center in Cedar Rapids. Hosted by the ACE Sector Board, the event gives seventh and eighth grade students an opportunity to spend a day in the construction industry through an interactive showcase. Students can register through their schools, and exhibitors can contact Karyl Bohnsack with The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association by March 21.
Hands-on learning labs – led by volunteers from area construction companies – include construction industry practices, such as carpentry, plumbing, heavy equipment, masonry, drywall and more. There also will be educational displays and equipment operations. Learning about the construction trade in this way shows students early in their schooling an alternative path to a four-year college degree and lets them test-drive different careers. Included will be information about the personal debt differential between going into the skilled trades compared to attending college for many years and the different levels where they can enter the field with no experience or with an associate degree.
“Perhaps the biggest challenge for builders and general contractors right now is the lack of skilled workers,” said Vocational Training Council – Home Builders Association of Iowa City President Tim Ruth of McCreedy-Ruth Construction. “Informing students about the construction trade while they’re in junior high allows them time to learn more about the field, find what piques their interests and explore throughout high school how it can be a viable choice for them. Our hope is, in the end, they will go into the field.”
The Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area Build My Future is the second of four such events being held across Iowa this year. The Quad Cities Home Builders and Remodelers Association held the first March 3, while the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Des Moines will host theirs April 13. The HBA of Greater Siouxland will host their event in October.
Sponsors for the April 5 event are The Greater Iowa City Area HBA Vocational Training Council and Woodruff Construction. Additionally, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) awarded a $2,500 grant from its National Housing Endowment. Other sponsorship opportunities are available through March 21.