Metro Construction Career Expo set for Nov. 2-5

Southern Illinois Builders Association and the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program are hosting the Metro Construction Career Expo for students Nov. 2-5 to address an acute workforce shortage in the construction industry and raise awareness of career options.

For the first time, a free public session is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, so parents can attend and learn about the construction trades.

The Metro Construction Career Expo will be held at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, 200 S. Belt East, Belleville. Approximately 1,000 students from schools throughout Southwestern Illinois have already been signed up to attend the four-day event.

The two organizations aim to raise awareness about the advantages of career opportunities in the construction sector, which incorporates a variety of trades, including painters, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, laborers, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, operating engineers and plasterers. Participants will enjoy hands-on learning experiences by visiting booths manned by representatives of the various trades. They also will be provided with trade-specific information on possible wage and fringe benefit packages, suggested curriculum choices and relevant skills needed to pursue a career in construction.

“These trades offer stable employment in our region, on-the-job training, high wages and great benefits, and the ability to start a successful career with just a high school diploma or equivalent,” said Donna Richter, chief executive officer of SIBA. “As an added bonus, many apprentices also take college courses at no cost to them, ultimately earning college credits, an associate’s degree, other trade-specific certifications or even a four-year degree.”

The expo is coming on the heels of the recent launch of a new outreach campaign, Manufacture Your Future/Craft Your Future — A Career that Pays in Southwestern Illinois. The campaign, which is being led by the region’s two workforce investment boards and has financial support from the two organizations, is aimed at connecting high school students to almost 3,000 high-paying jobs available in the manufacturing and construction sectors in the next five years.  The expo will help students and their families get a clearer picture of those jobs, which average almost $33 per hour plus benefits of $22 per hour. Individuals pursuing this path also can earn while they learn, as their participation in an apprenticeship program makes them part of the workforce from the start.

For information or to sign up a school group to attend, contact Donna Richter at Southern Illinois Builders Association at (618) 624-9055.

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