High school students from across the state are among those taking part in the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Iowa’s annual event. Ginny Shindelar, vice president of education and training for ABC of Iowa, says it’s part of an effort to address a skilled workers shortage across the country.
“We’re really trying to get the young kids, the high school students, just involved in the trades as much as possible and bring that awareness that there are great opportunities for careers in the future for them,” Shindelar says. The construction industry of today is much different than it was 10 to 20 years ago. Shindelar says companies are searching for elite students.
“I hear all the time from instructors and employers how we have to make sure we’re getting bright individuals into construction, mostly because of the technology that is used these days,” Shindelar says. “There’s a lot of new technology coming out every day. They really have to know and understand and be willing to learn how to use that in today’s construction.”
At today’s event in Des Moines, more than 100 high school students are involved in team competitions in carpentry, welding and electrical work. Prizes are being awarded in each category. The main event features over 40 apprentices from across Iowa taking part in electrical, HVAC, plumbing and sheet metal competitions. They’re being judged on the quality of their work, as well as their ability to follow safety guidelines.
“The winner from each one of the (apprentice) competitions will go on to represent ABC of Iowa at ABC National Craft Championships in Long Beach, California in March,” Shindelar said. ABC of Iowa claims to have the largest apprenticeship-training program in Iowa and represents around 540 construction-related companies from across the state.