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Community Colleges help train skilled workers for the construction industry

Posted By ryan kaminski, Friday, May 19, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 18, 2017

Training the Next Generation of Skilled Workers

There's no denying that the construction industry is in serious need of new skilled workers. In Nevada, even the local community colleges are jumping on-board with programs to educate high school and college students on practical and engaging career paths in construction. If you're a millennial, you know how hard it can be to find a job in other sectors. What's stopping you from trying out construction?

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) Tuesday morning, the students in the construction class at Western Nevada College weren't just getting hands-on training. They were getting both high school and college credit. "To be able to do this, it's such a great opportunity," said Johnny Llamas, one of the students. Llamas and his peers are seniors at Carson High School. They are taking part in the Jump Start program at Western Nevada College, which means when they graduate high school, they will also have earned credits toward an associates degree at WNC. And that's just the beginning. "Right after they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills to get a decent job in the trades," said Nigel Harrison, Professor of Construction Technology at WNC. The program is just one of many ways the college is ramping up its construction management program to meet the demands of the region. "Construction is booming in Northern Nevada," said Harrison. "The jobs are there. We have employers knocking on our door, looking for people who have the skills we offer here."

Truckee Meadows Community College is also trying to keep up with the growing demand for skilled workers in the construction industry. "We try to build a pipeline of trained workers," said Kyle Dalpe, Dean of Applied Industrial Technologies at TMCC, who says the demand for skilled workers in construction is high. The college is trying to get its students into those jobs and is increasing its apprenticeship programs with employers and unions. He also says demand among students continues to go up."What we're seeing from last academic year to this academic year is students are actually taking twice as many credits in our construction classes and that's not even including HVAC, welding, and some of the other construction-related career paths," said Dalpe. "We're in dire straits," said Aaron West, CEO of Nevada Builders Association, about the construction worker shortage in the state. "Within Northern Nevada alone, we're about 15,000 workers short as of today," he said. West says the region lost a quarter of its workers in the construction industry in the recession and many who stayed are now getting closer to retirement age. "The average age of the construction work force right now is 45," said West. "Fifteen-percent of our work force is over the age of 50." But students like the ones at Western Nevada College and Truckee Community College are giving builders hope. And those schools plan to keep building on their construction programs to build up the work force.

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