The department, the Construction Industry Roundtable, the National Association of Home Builders and the seven construction unions that form the National Heavy & Highway Alliance are all involved in the new initiative, called Skills to Build America’s Future. It will target high school guidance counselors, students and parents.

The executive branch of government has not been a visible partner in advocating construction careers, says Emily Stover DeRocco, the Labor Dept.’s assistant secretary for employment and training. "We are finally stepping up to the plate."


DOL will fund the project, part image campaign and part recruitment tool, including sending a letter to all high school guidance counselors nationwide advocating apprenticeship programs and explaining the importance of jobs in the skilled trades. "Design and construction workers were the backbone of the recovery efforts in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001," the letter states. It is signed by union presidents representing the operating engineers, laborers, carpenters, ironworkers, bricklayers, teamsters and plasterers and cement masons, along with the heads of CIRT, NAHB and Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. Efforts are under way to bring other industry groups and state governors into the project.

The program dovetails with another effort to recruit for the construction industry–the White House’s High Growth Job Training Initiative. That aims to ensure that training and career development resources help workers gain the skills and competencies needed to obtain jobs and build careers in 12 targeted industries, including construction.

Success will be measured by the number of jobs landed, length of employment and pay raises, says DeRocco.

lthough many construction and design groups have launched individual programs to attract students to construction, the Labor Dept. has entered the arena for the first time.