The construction industry is facing an unprecedented lack of skilled labor. Many reasons are said to be the cause of the shortage, including lasting effects of the Great Recession, industry veterans retiring, as well as the fact many high school graduates are not interested in blue-collar jobs. While this presents a concern for the industry, it’s also a disservice to the students. As many construction professionals know, careers in construction—specifically the trades—can often pay a higher salary and provide more benefits than work considered as white-collar.

“Trade contractors (masons, carpenters, electricians, etc.) are becoming a rare breed. The average age of a tradesman is 55 years old. That number is dangerously close to retirement age. There aren’t many young, talented and hardworking individuals [in the industry] to learn from these guys and eventually take their place,” explained Preconstruction Manager, Arthur Rogers.

In order to provide students with all of the information about the opportunities available to them, Martin Horn and the Association of General Contractors (AGC), co-hosted a career development event for students of Western Albemarle High School.

The day began with welcoming the students onto the site and reviewing the necessary safety precautions and equipment needed to enter an active job site. Afterwards, Martin Horn Project Manager, Jeff Sims and Preconstruction Manager, Arthur Rogers discussed the benefits of a career in construction, particularly as a trade contractor.

Students were then given a tour of The Shops at Riverside Village, an in-progress, multi-building, mixed-use project with Stony Point Design/Build. The project’s superintendent, Calvin Wilkerson pointed out the work of various trades in each building, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and roofing, in order to demonstrate its importance and value to the project as a whole.

After the tour completed and the students returned to class, staff members who led the tour were humbled by several hand-written thank you notes from students, citing what they had learned from the trip and which parts they enjoyed the most.

“Throughout the walkthrough, I gained a deeper interest in the [trades] field and will most definitely continue to gain knowledge about your line of work. Thank you,” said one note, from WAHS student Isaiah Shageer.

The AGC’s Young Leaders group coordinate the event each year to further their goals of workforce development. Martin Horn is proud to support their efforts and even more proud to employ dozens of highly-skilled tradesmen within our own company and through subcontracting the work of dozens of skilled trade contractors each year. We would never be able to “build stuff” without them.