A Unique Experience
Construction Career Day events are workforce development tools which introduce high school students to the construction industry and support the pipeline that will provide the professionals of tomorrow. These event increase career awareness through hands-on experience with heavy equipment, welding, small tools, plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, surveying, bridge construction, underground utilities, and other construction related jobs.
As Past President and Current Chair of the New Hampshire Good Roads Association committee on Workforce Initiatives, Larry Major of Pike Industries, agrees, “The NHCCD event is a unique experience for students to explore many different types of construction occupations. Union and non-union construction professionals are available to discuss their typical day and what attracted them into the industry. Students are also encouraged to participate in a variety of hands-on activities throughout the venue.
“As someone who chose a career in the construction industry, I find it exciting and rewarding to engage with young people who are considering construction as a career. The construction industry offers good jobs with exceptional room for advancement. By their very nature, these jobs will never be offshored.
“Modern society and culture are dependent upon a strong construction industry. Technology and new challenges of our ‘built environment’ require skilled workers with a passion for building and maintaining the structures we use every day. Although students often ask how much money they can make, they also enjoy discussing the importance of construction products and services globally, nationally, and for the local communities in which they live.”
Robin Wood, Human Resources Director, Reed & Reed, Inc. and current President of the Maine chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), emphasizes, “Participating in the NHCCD event confirmed to us at Reed & Reed that there are a lot of students interested in the trades. As an industry, we know that with the workforce shortage, it is up to us to create the next generation of construction workers.
NHCCD opened our eyes to the potential career paths we could share with the students by providing them a hands-on experience. We were astounded at the level of participation and excitement among the students. The vast array of vendors provided experiences from operating equipment, to welding or building a shed, to applying for college. They went full circle and were all encompassing.
The impact on the participants, including the smiles and positive comments were on faces everywhere and you could see the wheels spinning as they tried various hands-on tasks. Some definite career choices were made here and many others are now thinking about construction as a future career path.
It was after participating in the experience of the NHCCD events, we knew the importance of making this opportunity available to students here in Maine. From that, NAWIC Maine, with the assistance of Catherine Schoenenberger, ran with it and launched our inaugural Maine Construction Career Day (MCCD) last year. We served over 650 students in the one half-day event. It was extremely well received by students, and even more so by the construction professionals who participated.”
“It is all of construction represented in one location for a couple of days, and we, the professionals, are all asking the same question, ‘How can we get the younger generation to consider construction as a viable career path?,'” says Catherine Schoenenberger, Founder and President of NHCCD. “The simplistic answer is through events like this.”
At the end of each year, the exhibitors immediately start thinking through ideas for better hands-on experiences, competitions, and enticements for the students to engage in the experience of their exhibit next year.
A great example of this is first time participants in 2022, the New Hampshire Army National Guard. Their team was so impressed by the energy of the students they engaged with, that in 2023, their outfit has arranged for a greater level of sponsorship and has committed to running an over the top “register to win” on-site contest with great prizes for the students’ benefit.
“These events thoroughly engage the students, absolutely,” says Schoenenberger. “However, these events also re-ignite the individual passion for the industry in our professionals. The pros get to share their experiences, their paths, and how they arrived to where they are today. It’s quite powerful for all.”
Meghan Theriault, Public Works Director in Gilford, New Hampshire, and a NHCCD Director, says, “As has been reported many times, the construction and transportation industry are in dire need of next generation employees for these critical jobs due to the loss of retired skilled laborers. NHCCD strives to assist students with finding meaningful careers that they can enjoy, experience personal growth and earn a great salary after a hard day’s work, often while wearing jeans, boots, and a hardhat. Because of my involvement with NHCCD, I continue to be inspired by the passion so many others share for this industry and am grateful for their time and commitment each year in creating a safe, exciting, and engaging space for construction career exploration.”
From 2009 through 2022, over 12,000 New Hampshire students have participated in these events. At the core, NHCCD events promote hands on activities, safety, diversity, partnerships and teamwork, and continuous improvement for and to all of the students participating.
For more information on the event, go to nhccd.weebly.com. If you would like to participate as an exhibitor, sponsor, or volunteer, please contact Catherine Schoenenberger at StaySafeTraffic@gmail.com.
- Established 2009, 501(c) 3 nonprofit corporation
- Founder – Catherine Schoenenberger
- Directors – Meghan Theriault and Eric Gustafson
- Coordinator – Jennifer Landon
- Since inception, over 12,000 New Hampshire High School Students served
- 1,112 students from 47 different New Hampshire programs
- 15 percent female students
- 15 percent minority students
- 96 exhibitors with 30 pieces of live heavy equipment
- 315 exhibitor representatives
- 50 volunteers
- 139 chaperones