“Build Your Future” Builds America
In 1997, NCCER created its Build Your Future (BYF) initiative to increase awareness of the rewarding careers available in the construction industry. Initially, BYF created videos, public service announcements and posters, but in 2010, the initiative was enhanced with a set of clear goals, a stronger focus on industry needs and an increased emphasis on making career and technical education (CTE) a priority in the U.S. Today, BYF offers a wide range of resources, including fliers, brochures, posters, bookmarks, T-shirts, videos, TV commercials, craft professional trading cards, construction career paths and a craft labor map that shows the demand for craft professionals in each state. In addition, BYF’s Hard Hat Heroes military program offers numerous resources for contractors to help recruit and train transitioning servicemembers and veterans.
The contributions of stakeholders and partners over the years have helped BYF to develop recruitment materials and continue to expand nationwide. With this support, BYF has been able to provide free online resources, sponsor career events, update recruiting materials and even provide scholarships. BYF also offers partnership opportunities for organizations that would like customized posters, brochures, fliers, bookmarks, trading cards, T-shirts, recruitment videos, construction career paths and career day resources. BYF can even customize TV and radio commercials for partners.
In 2011, the Louisiana Workforce Commission partnered with BYF to improve construction recruitment in the state of Louisiana. Since the Build Your Future/Build Louisiana initiative began, NCCER training module completions have increased by 94 percent throughout the state, and NCCER training level completions within the Louisiana Community and Technical College System have risen by an astounding 145 percent. Statistics like these shows there is a great deal of interest in construction, but individuals are not always aware of career opportunities or how to find training. BYF resources can be combined with NCCER programs to deliver a comprehensive plan for closing the skills gap. NCCER provides industry-recognized curricula and credentials that allow states like Louisiana to train individuals, along with recruiting and promoting construction careers.
BYF is proud to support the national SkillsUSA carpentry and masonry competitions each year. In addition, BYF offers scholarships to craft training students through SkillsUSA, Associated Builders and Contractors, The Associated General Contractors of America, Human Resources Construction Council and Folds of Honor Foundation.
Another major focus for BYF is supporting construction career day events throughout the country. Construction career days provide opportunities for industry representatives to speak directly with middle and high school students and introduce them to the various careers that exist in the industry. BYF offers several free career day planning resources at byf.org/resources. This year, BYF surveyed students at various career day events and discovered that 92 percent of the students surveyed said the events increased their interest in construction career opportunities, and 72 percent now view construction careers more favorably as a result of the events.
While BYF supports construction career day events throughout the year, the majority of these events occur in October during Careers in Construction Month. Started by BYF in 2005, Careers in Construction Month was originally known as Careers in Construction Week. Due to tremendous response from organizations that recognized and supported Careers in Construction Week, BYF expanded its efforts by declaring October as Careers in Construction Month. This nationwide campaign was designed to increase public awareness of the opportunities available in the construction industry. Schools, contractors and organizations from all over the country partner locally to host construction career events throughout the month. This year, 18 states proclaimed October as Careers in Construction Month. Governors in Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and Michigan all recognized Careers in Construction Month in their states.
For as far as BYF has come over the last 18 years, we still have a lot more to accomplish. BYF’s industry-wide recruiting efforts continue to have an enormous impact on our future construction workforce. However, it is critical for our industry to be more involved in these efforts to create and maintain a robust talent pipeline if we want to close the skills gap.
About the Author
Jennifer Wilkerson is the Director of Marketing, PR and Build Your Future for NCCER. She has a background in both education and construction. Jennifer taught high school English for 13 years and is part owner in a small welding company where she was the acting business manager for six years. She began with NCCER as a project manager overseeing the development and revision of curricula and assessment. Jennifer now leads a successful marketing team that has enhanced NCCER’s presence in the construction marketplace and generated renewed interest in the Build Your Future initiative aimed at recruitment and image enhancement for the construction industry. She holds degrees in English education and business administration.