News & Updates

News & Updates

Trades Days Show Students a Strong Career Opportunity

ValleyBuild representatives, partners and friends are introducing the next generation to the construction industry through Trades Days.

These events, usually targeting high school students, have been held throughout the 14-county ValleyBuild region and most recently in Kern and Stanislaus counties. Trades Days help inform students about the tremendous career opportunities in the building and construction trades partly through hands-on activities, exhibits and demonstrations.

“We’re planting the seeds that there’s more than one pathway after high school,” said Ashley Matthews, senior project coordinator with the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board, the fiscal agent for the state-funded ValleyBuild program.

The building and construction trades are “the other four-year degree,” she said, similar to college because workers typically complete a four to five-year apprenticeship. However, workers in the trades don’t need to amass college debt while looking forward to good wages.

Trades Days show students another career path. “If you’re not cut out for sitting inside a classroom, there are other options that are sustainable and can give you a good quality of life,” Matthews said.

In January, the Construction Industry Education Foundation, in partnership with Valley Builders Exchange, held its Trades Day at the Stanislaus County fairgrounds.

The event – “Trades Day: A Day for Construction Career Exploration” – drew roughly 275 students from the region and as far south as Fresno. The high school students had the chance to visit exhibitor booths, learn how to use tools and/or equipment and hear about career opportunities in the industry.

Christine Schweininger, executive director of Valley Builders Exchange, talked about the importance of Trades Day.

“The construction industry is experiencing a significant shortage of skilled tradespeople, and this trend is set to worsen as the baby boomers prepare for retirement. Unfortunately, only a handful of millennials or Gen X individuals have the necessary experience to fill these roles,” she said.

“In light of this, a Trades Day offers high school students the chance to interact with industry professionals, ask insightful questions about future opportunities, and gain hands-on experience in trades such as welding, cement mixing, roofing, and heavy equipment operation.”

ValleyBuild has been a sponsor or participant in many Trades Days and similar outreach events. For example, the program co-sponsored a Women in Trades Workshop in Kern County last November.

ValleyBuild representatives also are scheduled to participate in the Kern County Career and STEM Expo in late April, an event designed to show different careers and pathways to thousands of sixth through 12th grade students.