A total of 159 students from 10 different junior highs or middle schools in three Eastern Iowa counties are signed up to attend the first annual Build My Future-ACE Career Day & Industry Showcase. The April 2 event is being held at Jones Hall on the Cedar Rapids Kirkwood Community College campus. Hosted by the ACE Sector Board, the event gives 7th- and 8th-grade students an opportunity to spend a day in the construction industry through an interactive showcase. Students registered through their schools.
Hands-on learning labs – led by volunteers from area construction companies – include construction industry practices, such as carpentry, plumbing, heavy equipment, masonry, drywall and more. There also will be educational displays and equipment operations. Learning about the construction trade in this way shows students early in their schooling an alternative path to a four-year college degree and lets them test-drive different careers. Included will be information about the personal debt differential between going into the skilled trades compared to attending college for many years and the different levels where they can enter the field with no experience or with an associate degree.
“Perhaps the biggest challenge for builders and general contractors right now is the lack of skilled workers,” said ACE Sector board member Tim Ruth of McCreedy-Ruth Construction. “Informing students about the construction trade while they’re in junior high allows them time to learn more about the field, find what piques their interests and explore throughout high school how it can be a viable choice for them. Our hope is in the end they will go into the field.”
The Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area Build My Future is the second of four such events being held across Iowa this Spring. The Quad Cities Home Builders and Remodelers Association held the first March 7, while the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Des Moines and the HBA of Greater Siouxland will host theirs April 17 and 25, respectively.
Sponsors for the April 2 event are Hills Bank and Trust Company, The Greater Iowa City Area HBA Vocational Training Council, The Cedar Rapids HBA and Kirkwood Community College. Additionally, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) awarded a $10,000 grant from its National Housing Endowment Fund to be used equally by the four inaugural Build My Future events. As part of the grant, a tool kit will be created by NAHB using Iowa materials so HBAs nationwide can implement their own Build My Future showcases.