Build California, a workforce development program created by the Associated General Contractors of California’s Construction Education Foundation (AGC CEF), came into some money recently.
It received a $500,000 Equal Representation in Construction Apprenticeship (ERiCA) grant for outreach and community building from the California Department of Industrial Relations.
“We have a construction labor pipeline challenge in California,” said AGC of California CEO Peter Tateishi. “Everybody in the state’s construction industry — the owners, the general contractors and the trade unions — benefit from grant programs such as ERiCA, because the money goes to encouraging the next generation to pursue careers in construction.”
The program tells young people and their all-important influencers about the many career opportunities in construction and connects them to pre- apprenticeship, apprenticeship and other training opportunities.
Build California’s programs address misconceptions about the construction industry’s wage-earning potential, safety and job variety.
Part of its target market is made up of girls and women, non-binary people (gender identities that are not solely male or female), former foster youth and other underserved populations between the ages of 12 to 24.
AGC CEF is a non-profit corporation “dedicated to inspiring, developing and equipping California’s current and future construction workforce.”
The half-million-dollar grant is the largest ever received by Build California or AGC CEF.
Build California’s approach to reaching young people combines lifestyle branding and social and digital media with career counseling support for those people who have decided to apply for apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs.
In 2022, Build California’s social and digital media messages and ads, school presentations, and job and career fair events reached over 28 million people.
“Build California plays a crucial role in building the California construction industry’s workforce pipeline to attract the next generation of construction workers,” said Tateishi in an announcement. “It presents construction as a career of first choice with well-paying jobs to young people who might not otherwise consider the industry because of misperceptions about who is welcome to work in construction.”
Funding from the ERiCA grant will enable Build California to target more than 10 million potential workers with social media campaigns.
It will also, with the help of 24 California high schools and community colleges, contact over 10,000 young women and girls and other underserved individuals between the ages 12 and 24.
The ERiCA grant will enable Build California to offer individual and customized career counseling services, with a goal of placing 150 workers per year in pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs.
These programs will also receive construction career outreach materials and other printed resources.
Build California will collaborate with the programs to put on contractor-employer events to ensure program participants find job placement after they graduate.
Erin Volk, executive director of AGC CEF, and senior vice-president, workforce and community development at AGC of California, said the ERiCA grant will enable Build California to address the construction industry’s continuing labor challenge in the Golden State.
“Because of the trillions of dollars of federal infrastructure spending that has been approved, there will be a lot of construction work taking place in the next five to 10 years,” said Volk. “The demand for labor to do that work will exceed the currently available workforce. Therefore, we need to bring the next generation into the construction workforce.”
Volk said that will be a challenge, because only about one out of five young people in Generation Z (11 to 26 years of age) is prepared to consider a career in construction. And there has been a dip in the number of Millennials (27 to 42 years of age) entering the industry.
“Construction doesn’t need to be made to appear cool to young people; it already is cool,” said Volk. “But we in the industry need to show them it’s cool.”
Volk said Build California’s marketing efforts so far have borne fruit.
“Our social and digital media have been getting more impressions and they have been leading to more website visits,” she said. “It shows we’ve been getting to the right people.”
In addition to Build California, AGC CEF has other programs to “inspire, develop, and equip” California’s current and future construction workforce: college access and success; training and education; emerging leaders; diversity, equity and inclusion; and small business initiatives.