The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of California and AGC Construction Education Foundation last month launched a free, online learning platform for young people interested in construction. Build California e-cademy is a virtual construction jobsite and classroom for Californians ages 12 to 24. 

“Build California e-cademy was developed to streamline the career exploration and readiness process,” says Abigail Palomares, Build California Manager, AGC of California. “For years there has been a need to not only cultivate interest in construction careers among the next generation, but also sustain their interest from their early years through high school and move them to actively pursuing a construction career.” 

Build California e-cademy offers interactive experiences aimed at piquing a student’s interest and moving them to pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and/or college programming. The online platform encourages career exploration by educating young audiences about today’s different construction. Once a student finds a specific interest, the course helps them pursue it with counseling and mentorship.

The learning platform’s curriculum was built collaboratively with labor and management partners, including A-C Electric Company; Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California; Flatiron Construction Corporation; Laborers Southern California Joint Apprenticeship Committee; Northern California Laborers Training Center; Royal Electric Company; and Southern California Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee.

“I’ve been presenting to high school kids and young adults for several years talking about opportunities in the mechanical, electrical and plumbing industry, and most don’t realize the earning potential and career progression this industry has,” says Leslie Schlaegel, talent development director at Royal Electric. “I know that Build California can inspire the next generation to consider a career in construction.” 

Schlaegel, who provided input and helped review the final e-cademy curriculum, says she expects the learning platform to be promoted to schools throughout the state. “It will take a big push from industry leaders and ambassadors to assist Build California in doing so, but I believe the more students participate, the more excited they will become about pursuing a career in the construction industry.”

The program has two online pathways. The first is “Explore and Learn,” which focuses on helping students learn about the “fun” aspects of construction. Curriculum includes robots in construction, wood shop, technology in construction and an introduction to Build California, a workforce development initiative created to engage future California construction workers.

The second pathway is “Construction Ready Certificate,” comprised of four one-hour courses: introduction to skilled trades, introduction to apprenticeships, jobsite readiness, and introduction to construction management. This track was designed for committed youth ready to actively prepare for the industry.

At course completion, participants receive a certificate that AGC partner organizations such as unions, apprenticeship programs and member firms will recognize. Completion of the Construction Ready Certificate track concludes with a career coaching session with a Build California team member who can help connect the student to partner organizations, apprenticeship opportunities, member firms or schools. 

Build California e-cademy began taking its first online students last month and is currently open to all Californians between 12 and 24 years-old. Palomares says they hope to grow the platform’s audience over time, starting with 500 learners in the first year of operation and scaling each year thereafter. “The beauty of the virtual platform is that there is no limit to the number of young people we can reach,” she says. 

A key feature of the program is the ability to measure its impact over time and track how many graduates enter pre-apprenticeship programs or go to work for member companies.

“Build California e-cademy’s learning management system is powered by Workforce Manager, a cloud-based application by LCPtracker that allows us to efficiently, securely and collaboratively manage and monitor the career development of our learners,” says Erin Volk, AGC vice president, Workforce Development, and executive director of Construction Education Foundation.