Students learn about viability of construction career

Eighth graders through high school seniors received hands on experience about a construction career / Sarah Bleau

Experts say the average age of today's construction workers is in the upper 50s and that in ten to 15 more years they'll be on retirement and contractors will be out of workers.

Instructors hoped to attract a younger generation to the construction career during Albany Technical College's fifth annual Careers in Construction events.

"We're finding that the workforce is aging, quite honestly and right now there are not enough young people that are coming into the construction industry to fill these skill positions," says Albany Tech Construction Instructor Wayne Barnette.

Construction work is slow these days but professionals at Albany Tech says when contractors do go to look for workers, education is vital because they want the worker with the most skills.

"Contractors are still hiring it's just that they're being much more selective with those that they hire. Now instead of hiring someone off the street, they hire someone that has training and more experience," says Barnette. "If I as an employer am talking to two different potential employees -- one has verifiable skills, the other is coming off the street -- I'm going to hire the one with more skill."

Eighth graders through high school seniors to get hands on time with some hand tools to practice those tools

"We have been having fun, talking, showing us a bunch of cool things that we may see in our future in construction," says Preston Scott, a ninth grader from Lee County 9th Grade Academy.

Albany Tech wanted to expose the students to areas of construction with one-on-one time in their service center.

"The teachers are real nice and friendly and they'll help you figure out how to do it," says Travis Apperson, also a ninth grader from the Lee County 9th Grade Academy.

Students learned about masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electricity as well as that construction is still a viable future career.

"I'm definitely considering it now. Coming out here and trying it, I think I'm going for it," says Davonta Stokes, a junior at Dougherty County High School. "I love it, I think it's fun. It's something I actually like to do, I like to have hands on work."

Barnette says getting a degree in construction gives them a jump start so they are not beginning on the "ground floor." He also says after graduating from a construction program in college, students can work their way up the ladder to a position that requires more brains than brawn.