Construction Career Fair Hopes to Pique Interest Among High Schoolers

By Kent Pierce | Originally posted on

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) — The construction industry is desperate for new workers.

That’s why the Connecticut chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors held a construction career fair for hundreds of high school students in Wallingford Wednesday. The idea is to get them interested in construction trades before many of them have picked a career.

“Just like learning about the different careers you can go into with this type of stuff,” said Cheshire High School Freshman Drew Veno. “It can take you pretty far. I’m anxious to see what I can get out of it.”

You can get a lot out of it, according to Chris Abel, Membership director of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

“They can have a very lucrative career. In a lot of cases, they don’t have to go get the college degree,” Abel said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they don’t have to stack up that large amount of debt, the tens of thousands of dollars if not more.”

Students are even allowed to operate actual construction equipment. Ward High School Senior Matthew Robilotto got behind the controls of an excavator and found the big machines required the smallest movements.

“Just minor adjustments. Move slightly to the right or slightly to the left,” Robilotto said. “It was almost precision-based how he wanted me to move it.”

As much fun as it all is, there is a serious message, and that is the serious shortage of workers in the industry. Organizers say that just to fill the vacancies this year alone, they need 600,000 new construction workers.

For some of the students, like Cheshire High School Freshman Nahum Gonzalez, construction runs in the family.

“My dad does a lot of construction,” Gonzalez said. “He always takes me to his job and teaches me a lot of stuff about electricity and just building stuff.”

“They may not know what field, specifically, they want to go into,” said ABC Connecticut chapter president Christopher Fryxell. “Other students maybe have no idea what they want to do after high school and this will be their first taste. Hopefully they like what they see because there’s incredible opportunities out there.”

Construction is soaring to new heights, and these students can, too.