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  • Arizona Contractor & Community

SACCD: Building Future Construction Crews

There’s one construction event that encourages the flouting of child labor laws.

The sixth annual Southern Arizona Construction Career Days in 2019 attracted more than 3,000 students from 85 schools to pound a few nails, drill a few screws, and unlock some engineering puzzles.

“Each student gets a hands-on experience with being able to operate equipment, hands-on building, and developing relationships with industry professionals,” Ramon Gaanderse, president and event founder, says. “This also allows educators and the industry to share ideas and discuss skills that are needed to train and place students into the right work discipline.”

Students learn from experts in heavy civil construction and mining, engineering, building trades, and utility construction to increase career awareness in these fields.

SACCD’s popularity has grown dramatically, as 694 students attended the first career days in 2014. Last year’s two-day event at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds cost $76,000. “We could not have done this without the support of the industry, Gaanderse says. “From the first year to now, we have grown our participation and sponsorship.”

Gaanderse notes that the event volunteers help bring the industry together, enabling them to work closely with schools in Southern Arizona to develop long-lasting relationships, “…that open the door for in-school visits,” he adds. “The blend between the construction industry and educators has evolved beyond our imagination.”

High school and middle schools are expanding their trade programs, along with Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED), Pima Community College, and the University of Arizona. “The commitment behind our business community to assist in expanding those programs is what is helping create career awareness in construction,” Gaanderse says. “We have a long way to go, but we are proud of the work done thus far and excited about what the future can bring.”

The 2020 SACCD has been canceled due to COVID-19.


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