Worker shortages are impacting various segments of the economy and the construction field is feeling that shortage more so than most. Seventy-five percent of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions. In Wisconsin, it is projected that the construction and extraction field will have the highest overall job growth of any industry with a 20.5% increase between 2012-2022.
To address this critical need for personnel to fill what has been called the skills gap, over 12 contractors, currently, and 3 educational systems are devising more than a plan to remedy this shortfall. They are seeking to build a facility that will provide valuable hands-on experiences for students electing to pursue these types of career opportunities.
The Career Construction Academy (CCA) building would be an addition to Fond du Lac High School. The 5,750 square foot building would be designed to handle all trades with the capability of teaching all of the current practices. The building’s cost of $1,104,039, where just over 60% has already been raised for this undertaking, has the full support of the Board of Education, which has committed $500,000 to the project. “This structure will enable educators to teach students the fundamentals of several construction trades, from architecture and engineering to carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. This basic training will provide useful knowledge that students can utilize throughout their entire lifetime, even for things like home projects and household repairs. The construction program will also help them to set their sights on a successful career if that is the direction that they so choose,” stated Pat Smith of C.D. Smith Construction.
The CCA Committee members include (alphabetically) Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin, Ahern-Gross Plumbing, Alliant Energy, Bray Architects, C.D. Smith Construction, Capelle Brothers & Diedrich, County Materials Corporation, Faith Technologies, Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce, Fond du Lac School District, J.F. Ahern, Michels Corporation, Moraine Park Technical College, Specht Electric, and St. Mary’s Springs. Bob Roehrig, representing County Materials Corporation, shared, “Some of the largest construction companies in Fond du Lac County and the State of Wisconsin have committed to providing financial support for tools and supplies, as well as technical speakers and curriculum assistance for the Construction Academy. Students will learn from industry speakers, experience hands-on training in many fields, and graduate with employable skills preparing them to seek employment with construction companies.”
Groundbreaking for the CCA would be in Spring 2017, however, that is dependent upon the remaining balance of the project cost being raised. Committee members are hoping to gain the additional funding by visiting other contractors and laborer organizations to present the ideas of the plan in greater detail. Vern Widmer, the Career Construction instructor at Fond du Lac High School, commented, “We are so grateful for the partnerships that have evolved and continue to grow. The opportunities that our kids would have with this addition would be incredible for them and valuable for the companies experiencing this skilled worker shortage.”
In a recent article in the Journal Sentinel, Tim Sullivan, CEO of Bucyrus International, stated, “Education is supposed to really provide you the skill sets to get a job and to go through life being able to provide for yourself and your family. If you’re not marrying or tying the education system to the available job market, it’s just crazy.”
For more information on the CCA building addition, please contact the Fond du Lac School District’s Coordinator of Facility Services, John Williams, at 929-2887