Hands-on construction workshops let students get behind the wheel
TAMPA, Florida. – Tapping into the potential future workforce takes some creativity. Having cool tools to work with always helps.
Florida Construction Careers Day gives high school students the opportunity to learn what’s going on in the construction industry in a hands-on way.
Don Hart, board member of the host group organizing the event, said Tampa Bay Construction Careers Day was hosted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Federal Highway Administration, Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FTBA), the Suncoast Utility Contractors Association. and other companies in the construction industry.
The event brought together 1,000 local high school students to the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover for interactive, hands-on displays with tractors, front loaders, backhoes and other heavy equipment.
“It gives them the opportunity to experience how the equipment works. It’s been a big hit,” admitted Hart. “They appreciate the opportunity, rather than sitting in a chair and listening to another lecture all day … to go out and operate some equipment.”
These tools of the trade and hands-on demonstrations made for a successful show-and-tell for many students who participated.
“We have a real look at the work. It’s not like you read it in a book. You hear it from the people doing it,” shared James Hiebert of Bartow High School.
This is also an advantage for the construction industry.
“There’s a high demand for these jobs,” Hart said. “The reality is that there are actually some very high-paying jobs out there.”
The companies involved are constantly working with local school systems to hold learning labs and demonstrations of their equipment in schools. But this event was special.
“It’s the kind of excursion you don’t do every day,” Hart said.
“I got on the…the excavator, it’s really fun…it’s almost like an extension of your arm,” Hiebert said. “It’s the first time I’ve done any of this stuff here… It’ll help me figure out what I want to do.”
The goal is to tap into this future workforce.
To volunteer to host a learning lab, you can visit the Florida Construction Career Day website, https://ccdfl.org/get-involved/#learning-labs.
For students interested in the Hillsborough County Construction Industry Apprenticeship Track, visit https://www.hillsboroughschools.org/careerandtechnical.
For students interested in the Polk County Construction Industry Apprenticeship Track, visit http://www.polkedpathways.com/.
Pasco County students can learn about construction trades in a course this summer at https://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/news/page/summer-construction-trades-program.