Faced with a looming shortage of skilled workers, several members of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Keystone are ramping up efforts to create pathways for McCaskey High School CTE students into apprenticeship programs and technical careers.
Representatives of Benchmark Construction, MVE Group and Brubaker, Inc. visited a building trades class Friday to offer three “career trees” that list the technical and professional jobs open to workers in the fields of carpentry, electrical and plumbing. They spent about 20 minutes talking with juniors about opportunities at their companies and in their fields.
The visit is part of a larger effort among employers to recruit from McCaskey’s burgeoning CTE program. Thanks to a year-old partnership with ABC Keystone, McCaskey graduates can receive six credits toward a registered apprenticeship program for classes they took while in high school. The credits apply to apprenticeships in carpentry, craft labor, electrical, heavy equipment operations, HVAC, plumbing and sheet metal working.
“ABC connects the graduates to an employer, who then sponsors the cost of the apprenticeship,” says to Stephanie Larkin, VP of education, safety and workforce development at ABC. “Who else can say their education was paid for by someone else—while getting paid to work?”
Larkin says some 40 percent of workforce at industries represented by ABC will retire in the next 15 years, creating tremendous demand for an influx of young workers.
“The demand is higher than ever, so salaries are very good right now,” she adds, “and the growth of these industries will continue for a while.”
The SDoL school board is studying its CTE programs for growth opportunities and investment, given the potential to place students in good-paying jobs right out of high school. McCaskey students beat state averages in a number of career-readiness measures. Students score advanced on industry-based assessments at twice the state average, while more than a third of graduates passed the exam, earned an industry-recognized credential or completed a work-based learning experience while in high school. In fact, the number of students participating in a work-based experience has surged from 15 in 2016-2017 to 97 last school year.
That mirrors the trend in students taking Dual Enrollment courses, which are college-credit courses taken while in high school.