Construction experts address students

A group of experts joined together on May 10 to encourage young minds to explore the construction industry as a future career choice.

About 200 students gathered in the assembly room at Lied STEM Academy, a middle school in Las Vegas, to listen to several experts discuss their jobs, backgrounds, highlights in their careers and the multitude of career choices in construction in Southern Nevada. The students are all middle-schoolers entering the construction program next school year at the Lied school.

Lied STEM Academy is one of several Clark County School District schools being visited by experts in the industry, an effort being jointly hosted by Nevada State Contractors Board and Nevada Contractors Association. The goal is to shine a light on the skilled workforce areas in the construction industry and garner interest among younger generations.

“Opportunities to educate and inform the next generation of professionals about lasting and fulfilling careers in construction is vital to the success of the industry and the sustainability of Nevada’s infrastructure,” said Jennifer Lewis, public information officer for Nevada State Contractors Board. “Seeing high school and middle school students’ eyes light up when they learn about paid training and education programs, starting salaries for construction professionals and the opportunities for upward mobility, makes participation in the workforce development panels worthwhile.”

Lewis joined the recent panel with the following experts: Emilie Kirkhus, director of Education & Training for Nevada Contractors Association; Donnie Gibson, owner of Civil Werx; Drew Leavitt, key account manager, Sunstate Equipment; and Michael Robertson, estimator with GSL Electric.

“Nevada Contractors Association believes that educating youth about the construction industry and what it has to offer is important to the future of the industry as baby boomers are retiring, and we need an influx of skilled workers within all aspects of construction,” Kirkhus said. “By educating youth about the industry and the career opportunities available within it, we hope to see students who don’t necessarily want a conventional office job join our industry and share our passion of building the future.”

Lewis of the Nevada State Contractors Board echoed her thoughts, saying that doing this continual outreach to students, whether on the middle, high school or college levels, will help them gain insight on the lucrative career choices available as Southern Nevada continues to boom with developments.

Lied STEM Academy is the first Career Technical Academy-type middle school that offers three programs of study, which include: architecture and construction management, robotics automation and manufacturing and computer science with IT and cybersecurity.

The program works with multiple community partners within the construction industry, such as the Nevada Contractors Association, Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, and the Nevada Contractors Board.

On Oct. 5, Lied STEM Academy sent 300 students to Construction Career Day, hosted by the Nevada Contractors Association. This made up a quarter of the total attendance of the event.

On Oct. 15-17, student groups interested in construction went on a field trip to Pardee Homes, in association with the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association. This field trip had the students tour model homes the company was creating in Henderson, and the students were able to have a discussion with the major leads of the project. About 60 percent of attendees were female, showing the growing interest and support for female roles in the industry.

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