Construction jobs are available, lucrative and key to the economy

Construction jobs are available, lucrative and key to the economy
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Recent news indicates that young people are skipping over the good-paying, high-growth careers in the building industry, but HBI begs to differ.

With a mission to train some of society’s most underserved individuals, HBI finds that more than 50 percent of its students want to have their own construction business. Many have gone on to do that.


Case in point, former HBI electrical student, Camella Boyd, came back to HBI as an instructor and started her own business while working full-time at a major electrical design-build and systems integration firm.


As a young person, she was interested in the electrical trade, pursued her certification and credentials and has been successful. There are many more Camellas out there.

HBI is a national nonprofit that trains at-risk youth, veterans, transitioning military members, high school students, justice-involved youth and adults and displaced workers. We enroll approximately 8,000 students each year and our curricula are used at 250 locations across the country.

We believe that equipping individuals with trades skills not only provides career opportunities, but also stimulates the economy through trained workers who can fill the skills gap needed to build new homes. We know that thousands of construction workers left the industry during the economic downturn and have not returned.

And, as the industry workers continue to gray-out, we are encouraging our young students to take advantage of the opportunity to capture one of the 5.5 million new job openings that are projected by 2021.

Convincing young people that careers in construction work are personally lucrative and important to the economy is not easy. But we can point to the statistics.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of construction and extraction occupations is projected to grow 11 percent between 2016-2026, faster than the average for all occupations, increasing from 6.8 million jobs to 7.6 million jobs.”

In 2017, HBI placed more than 85 percent of its students in industry jobs and those students performed more than 50,000 hours of community service. The student credential rate is 89 percent. We are looking forward to continued growth as more partners join us to prepare individuals for construction careers.

Over the past year, HBI has seen an increase in funding support and has joined with industry partners and others who have funded training programs to prepare individuals for construction careers.

In some cases, students are preparing to rebuild after natural disasters and in other situations, they are leaving the military ready to begin a new career. Their construction training is positioning them and the country for a success. But, this success does not come without the funding to make it happen.

Opportunities to secure funding to support workforce development do exist. But, are they reaching organizations like HBI, which prepares thousands of young, underserved individuals ages 16-24 for construction jobs each year?

If HBI had more funding, we could attract and train even more students and ensure they are trained and ready for their career growth as well as growth for the building industry.

John A. Courson is president and CEO of HBI, a national leader for career training in the building industry.