Construction career pathways are intended to expand the number of trained participants who have the skills required by employers in the construction industry, benefiting the economy and providing employment that offers a sustainable, livable wage.
A construction career pathway plan design combines rigorous, high-quality education, training, and supportive services. This plan should start early in the program, intensify during active programming while being woven through all program elements, and continue during the placement and follow-up phases.
Recruitment materials and information shared with partners and candidates should reflect the career development goals of the program and emphasize that YouthBuild is a recognized construction pre-apprenticeship program focused on preparing its participants to become work ready. For programs that use it, Mental Toughness is the pre-enrollment phase during which young people may begin career development through multiple, varied activities that may include career interest exploration, goal setting, creation of an individualized career plan, and introduction to employer partners through guest speaker presentations. Inviting prominent business leaders in the construction field to meet youth during the pre-enrollment mental toughness phase, share examples of available entry-level positions, and detail the hiring criteria can set the tone and expectations for work readiness for youth who go on to become YouthBuild participants.
As the program cycle begins, defining and reinforcing program expectations and creating a culture which supports successful construction placements is key to promoting construction career development during and after the program. Also, offering purposeful construction career pathway exposure and activities throughout the YouthBuild program will significantly improve construction career pathways preparation. These can include:
- Interest and aptitude assessments for specific construction sub-industries (such as painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, roofing)
- Portfolio creation
- Resume development
- Weekly guest speaker presentations from local construction employers, union representatives, and program alumni
- Visits to construction companies, building sites, Registered Apprenticeship sponsors, and construction-related jobs such as stage and set building at theaters, hardware stores, and building maintenance offices
- Skill demonstrations
- Mock interviews
- Hands-on experience and practice
- Team build challenges
- Job shadows
- Real-world work experience
Developing and maintaining intentional, strong partnerships with a range of employers who are willing to support and enhance the YouthBuild program is critical for your construction career pathways plan. A few recommendations are to:
- Assess your program needs, then develop and implement an employer outreach plan.
- Research the Registered Apprenticeship/Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship landscape locally and develop a mutually-beneficial sales pitch (i.e. goals to increase minority focus for racial and gender minorities) to support direct entry.
- Establish an advisory council with a construction focus. The primary function of the group could be identifying job opportunities; however, its members can also review and provide feedback on work readiness competencies, training curricula, and placement criteria; supply industry mentors, job shadows, internships, and work experience opportunities; and help to familiarize potential employers with the professional and personal needs and skill levels of YouthBuild participants.
To learn more about how to develop a comprehensive construction career pathway, please check out the webinar recording, Building a Construction Career Pathway at a YouthBuild Program, held May 5, 2020, presented by Rossie Cherry, DOL YouthBuild Technical Assistance Coach and including grantee peer perspectives.