Community Colleges of Spokane Construction Industry Skill Panel
The Spokane Construction Industry Skill Panel was convened in November 2004 by
the Community Colleges of Spokane’s
Institute for Extending
Learning and many other partners in
business, labor, and government. Its goal is to ensure the continued growth and
viability of the Spokane region’s construction industry. The skill panel
is addressing several concerns, among which are:
The aging local construction workforce, with 20 % of the existing workforce
expected to retire in the next four years;
A significant decrease in the numbers of young people who are choosing to enter
vocational careers in general, and the construction industry in particular;
Projections from the US Department of Labor indicating that the construction
industry will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, adding one million
new jobs by the year 2012; and
Rapid growth of the construction industry in the Spokane region, which
currently has many jobs available for a shrinking workforce.
To date the skill panel has:
Continued to recruit additional panel members, and views recruiting as an
Defined some local and regional factors that are causing the decline in numbers
of young people entering the construction workforce. Among them are:
Parental pressure to “go to college” (i.e., obtain a university
education) and not “work with your hands.”
High School counselors who encourage students to attend college or university,
rather than pursue professional-technical (formerly “vocational”)
A decline in the number of meaningful “vocational” or
“shop” courses that are offered in the public schools.
The stereotypical negative image of the construction trades.
- Developed preliminary strategies including designing a mobile display unit
focused on interesting young people in construction careers.
- Convened focus groups of public school students to identify what is necessary
to make marketing materials and educational or training displays and events
interesting to persons in their age group — in other words, identifying
the sorts of materials, displays and events that will engage young people.
- Developed and delivered a special half-day event designed to interest young
women in construction careers. Because of this event’s success, more are
planned for the future.