Testifying today on behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors before the U.S. House Committee on Education and The Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, Brandon Mabile, strategic development manager for Performance Contractors Inc., Baton Rouge, Louisiana, discussed policies needed to expand construction career pathways for high school students nationwide.
Speaking at the hearing “Preparing Students for Success in the Skills-Based Economy,” Mabile testified that one of the key issues currently facing the construction industry is “the severe workforce shortage that threatens our ability to thrive and build critical construction projects on time and on budget.”
Mabile said the success of the construction industry requires contractors to “locate, encourage and educate a new generation of skilled workers and ensure these hardworking and determined individuals are able to participate in the American workforce and make a living right out of high school, if they so choose, at a time when they are most needed.”
Pointing to the success of ABC’s all-of-the-above approach to workforce development, Mabile testified that this has produced a network of ABC chapters and affiliates across the country that offer more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management education programs to build the people who build America.
This network includes programs for contractors and ABC chapters to connect with high school and college students. Mabile shared that a 2023 survey of ABC members indicated that 79% of contractors have targeted career outreach to high school students, high school graduates and individuals with GED diplomas, and 65% have targeted programs for community college students and graduates. The number of ABC members that have internship programs continues to grow; of those that do, 74% offer internships for college/university students and 62% for high school students. More than 8 out of 10 ABC contractors offer paid internships to college/university and high school students.
“A job in the skilled trades is vital work that requires a high skill level, intense focus and a healthy work ethic,” said Mabile. “In the construction industry, highly skilled craft professionals are also able to obtain high-paying, high-demand jobs that are necessary in most every community throughout the country.”