We’ve featured many stories in past issues of the Journal that outline the crisis we’re all facing in the construction industry – a lack of skilled workers.
Baby boomers are retiring (or are retired) and Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z’s have been encouraged to focus on a university degree and the tech sector. Promoting a profession in the trades has been put on the back burner for years. It’s been considered a career that means you have to get your hands dirty, offers little opportunity for success and growth, and poor pay. Nothing can be further from the truth.
There is something you can do about it. Consider getting involved in the Legacy Builders program.
GVCA and its Leaders in Construction (LinC) committee launched Legacy Builders in September 2022 to encourage young students to consider a career in construction. The in-class education program has surpassed expectations. Primarily focused on grade 7 and 8 students, it was expanded into high schools in 2023.
LinC committee chair Christina Rauchfleisz-Shantz says “Our initial goal for the program was to schedule one classroom session a month with 30 students per class, for a total of 300 students reached over a 10-month period. But with the incredible interest since its launch, Legacy Builders has reached a total of 1440 students by the end of June 2023, with an additional 300 students on the waitlist for the fall 2023-2024 school season.”
Shantz coordinates classroom visits with the Business & Education Partnership of Waterloo Region. Each session lasts approximately two hours. Volunteer instructors from GVCA member firms explain their career in construction, why they chose it, and how they got there.
Then there’s an interactive portion where students are divided into teams to play “Jobsite – The Board Game”, a monopoly style game produced in Canada (www.jobsitegame.com), followed by a question-and-answer session.
Each student receives a Careers in Construction booklet that contains information about the ICI industry, the chain of work in a construction project, and a list of 20 possible construction professions with potential salaries. The booklet also includes a list of 45 construction training facilities, schools and organizations that offer courses, certificate programs or degrees, and/or apprenticeships. Legacy Builders ball caps and hoodies are also handed out.
“We began the first session by asking the grade 8 students if they knew anything about a career in construction or if they wanted to get into the construction industry, and no hands went up,” says Shantz. “At the end of the class we asked if anyone had changed their mind, and 9 hands went up out of 25 students. That’s 36% of the class that will now consider a career in construction. This is amazing progress for our industry!”
While Legacy Builders’ instructors are volunteers, there are expenses. Costs for printing the booklets plus acquiring board games, ball caps and hoodies can add up. After that first class, Shantz says, “Each student was raving about how cool each of the swag items was and they proudly wore them out of the classroom for the day. Spreading this positivity around the construction industry is what we need to do to break the bias!”
GVCA chair Mark Mollison agrees, and is excited about the potential growth of the program. “We are receiving interest from construction associations across the province. This is a terrific campaign to promote our industry to the next generation.”
Sponsorships are available for both GVCA member and non-member firms and we encourage you to consider it. Your company logo will appear on the Legacy Builders website on the sponsor registration page on the GVCA website, and in the booklet that each student receives. Keep in mind that those hundreds of students take that booklet home to show their parents, family and friends.
Legacy Builders is also looking for volunteer instructors to talk to students about their career in the industry so if you or someone you know is interested in getting involved, please email email@example.com.