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Op-Ed: Construction careers build strong future for students, state

Demand high for jobs that pay above average

By Anetha Sanford

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In October, the Home Builders Association of Kentucky (HBAK) is celebrating Careers in Construction Month, and we invite you to help us build the next generation of the commonwealth’s skilled workforce.

As our state experiences increased economic development and population growth, the demand for quality housing continues to grow steadily—and along with it, the need to significantly grow our workforce. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) estimates that approximately 740,000 new residential construction professionals are needed each year to keep up with industry demand nationwide.

In recent years, we have seen a renewed emphasis placed on career and technical education (CTE) training for our youth, rather than simply the traditional four-year college pathway. However, we must continue to prioritize the skilled trades and focus on improving awareness of the transformative opportunities they offer.

Kentucky’s homebuilders are doing our part to ensure that we are prepared for the future.

Last month, building organizations from across the commonwealth partnered to host 3,000 high school students for the 16th annual Kentucky Construction Career Days. This event in Shelby County enabled students to explore the industry firsthand through immersive, hands-on experiences with dozens of vendors.

Kentucky’s housing and building professionals also operate three state-of-the-art trade schools—the Enzweiler Building Institute in Northern Kentucky, the Building Institute of Central Kentucky in Lexington, and the Building Institute of Greater Louisville. Our local building associations across the state also partner with area schools, CTEs, and programs like Junior Achievement to equip individuals for success.

Through these programs, students train for rewarding careers like carpentry, electric, facility maintenance, HVAC, masonry, plumbing and welding. Not only are these jobs in high demand, they are also high paying. Half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $49,070 annually (compared to the U.S. median wage of $45,760); and the top 25% in the industry make at least $75,820 (compared to $68,590 overall).

Through an innovative apprentice-style “earn while you learn” format—with students working in their field during the day and attending classes at night—Kentucky’s building institutes quickly equip graduates for jobs with great pay, job security, and little or no student loan debt.

As we celebrate Careers in Construction Month, please help us spread the word about exciting opportunities available today for Kentuckians to build a strong future for themselves and for our commonwealth.

To explore careers in a wide variety of high-demand skilled trades, please visit NAHB.com/Trades or contact HBAK at (502) 875-5478.

Anetha Sanford is CEO/Executive Vice President of Home Builders Association of Kentucky.

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