On March 10th, I attended the Oregon Workforce & Talent Board’s all-day conference. By Friday of that week I was self-quarantining; by the following Monday schools were closed and my office was closed until April 1st. And now, my office will be closed and I’ll be working from home until at least April 30th. Life changes quick.

For those of us in workforce development, training and education this sudden change has meant a lot of canceled meetings and events, and most likely prioritizing other work related duties for the moment. While it may be hard to continue to promote construction-related careers during such an uncertain time, that’s what we’re going to continue to do. When this thing ends, and hopefully that’s soon, we want to maintain the momentum we have created and be ready for whatever lies ahead.

We hope you and your family are safe and healthy and we look forward to partnering again when things return to normal.

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AGC Construction Workforce Coalition Presents Entry-Level Job Pilot Project  

Every other month, AGC convenes the Construction Workforce Coalition meeting. The group is composed of contractors, workforce development professionals, educators from K-12 and community colleges, pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships, and community based organizations. The group came together about 6 years ago with the goal of breaking down silos and aligning construction related efforts across Portland and Salem regions.

Recently, this group began looking at how to bridge the gap between high school graduation and construction employment. Collectively, a lot of work has been done to educate students, teachers, and administrators about skilled trade careers, yet the average age of a first year apprentices is 28 years old. How can we get more recent high school graduates into the skilled trades?

At the March 11th Coalition meeting, Loren Watts from Watts Heating and Cooling, and Don Brenneman and Andrew Verey from Airefco presented a pilot project the two companies have been working on to develop more entry-level job opportunities at the supplier level. It is difficult for Loren to create, at scale, entry level positions within his company. However, his supplier, Airefco, can create entry level positions at their warehouse that allow for individuals to build work ethic while also learning about the industry. The objective is that people in these positions could transition into apprenticeships, at companies like Watts Heating and Cooling, or move up within Airefco.

Click here for a link to the meeting for a more detailed discussion on the benefits to the contractors, suppliers and the workforce. The Coalition will continue to track the progress of this pilot project and look for opportunities to scale it across the industry.


Ready or Not, It’s Time for Online Learning

We were all caught by surprise when COVID 19 arrived, and we are learning how resilient we must be to navigate during the shutdowns and stay-at-homes.  One way many educators keep students working on skills is through online classes, and there are several free options available. Like any online applications there are good ones, bad ones, and ones that waste your time.  A quick Google search for “free online construction safety courses” shows 362 million hits.

When choosing an online course, it is important to think about what kind of learner the student is.  If they don’t like to sit still for hours, or read lots of material, an online OSHA 10 or 30 course may not be the best option, but it is available.  Students typically like to watch videos, and there are plenty of Youtube videos online that enhance or support current skillsets. Lindsay McCargar, Gervais High School CTE instructor, assigned videos from to his students, and Joe Mauck at St. Helens High School has also made several videos with his construction club, which can be located online.  This might be a good time for students to make their own videos of safety and career exploration!

For more ideas, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program has begun collecting a variety of resources that CTE teachers are using to teach hands-on lesson online. For more information visit their website. Please also not this program provides additional resources, and funding to CTE programs.

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