Mentoring isn’t anything new to construction. This is an industry where many of today’s construction business owners and workers learned the ropes from straight-shooters who knew their way around a job site.
Today, however, mentoring seems to be taking on new meaning as contractors search for ways to bring the best and brightest into the construction industry—and into their own companies.
Industry members have their work cut out for them. Competing for a shrinking pool of qualified workers, they have to overcome many misconceptions—especially among women and young people—that construction work is backward, dangerous, and dull.
Mentoring is a path many construction contractors are taking to connect with the leaders and workforce of tomorrow. Two youth programs, in particular, seem to be gaining momentum among contractors as a way to bring the “construction is cool” message to today’s youth:
One of the fastest growing high school mentor programs, ACE reaches over 8,000 students annually. The program’s sole purpose is to inspire high school students to pursue careers in design and construction. Architects, engineers, and construction managers volunteer to share real world experiences with students and show them the opportunities present in the construction industry.
Through education, mentoring, and networking opportunities, MAGIC is encouraging high school age girls to pursue careers in construction. Contractors participate by donating their time and sponsoring a free, one-week MAGIC day camp in their area. At the camp, girls explore and develop basic skills in carpentry, electrical work, and welding. And at the end of the camp they visit a local construction project in process. MAGIC also has a partnership with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), a relationship they started in 2009.
What is your company doing to mentor your local youth? How are you as a construction professional “paying it forward” to give the next generation the same opportunities you’ve had?
Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes. In upcoming posts, I’ll delve into several other aspects of mentoring relevant to what’s happening in the construction industry today.