NCCER Infocenter

Nothing gets built without skilled workers, and skilled workers are becoming harder to come by. The workforce shortage faced by the construction industry is felt on jobsites every day across the country. Despite the potential for upward mobility, advancement and high-earning potential, construction companies remain challenged with finding enough craft professionals to keep up with the demand. With 2.7 million craft professionals needed by 2026, recruiting and retaining the next generation of skilled talent is essential.   

The construction industry is vast and the opportunities it offers are plentiful — and a younger generation is noticing. According to The Wall Street Journal, Gen Z is becoming the “Toolbelt Generation” with a stronger interest in going into skilled trades. Not only have vocational-focused community colleges seen an increase in student enrollment by 16% since last year, the number of students studying construction trades also rose 23%. 

Statistics also show that there is a decline in interest in exploring a traditional college track among Gen Z and middle school students. An article in The Piedmont Exedra highlights that 74% of Gen Z students wished they learned more about alternatives to a conventional college education, citing a profound interest in pursuing alternatives other than higher education. A growing number of young learners believe it’s possible to get a well-paying job with the right skills and without a college degree, making the skilled trades a more appealing option.

It seems the potential of attracting a young, diverse workforce to construction is on the rise. So how do we bridge the gap between curiosity and career? Choosing a career can be exciting and intimidating, and many of those considering a career in construction are unsure of where to start. Career exploration tools can provide useful information to help make informed decisions about possible career opportunities, but so often job seekers are looking for additional resources that guide them in the steps that follow.

CareerStarter is the first national program specifically designed to take individuals from curiosity to a career in the industry. This comprehensive platform leads individuals beyond career exploration to direct connections with local training programs and entry-level jobs, getting them started on a career pathway that fits their interests. CareerStarter can put users on a fast track to a successful career by providing the solution that guides them through the entire process from understanding their options, to finding training and ultimately obtaining a job in the industry. It can also be a sound resource for those seeking a career change or new opportunities in construction.

In addition to job seekers, the online platform is designed as a one-stop career-connection hub for employers and educators and provides a number of helpful resources to build a talent pipeline of workers.

CareerStarter is fully funded through the generous support of NCCER partners, Procore and Owens Corning. It is completely free of charge to individuals, schools, training programs and employers. Learn more about how NCCER is powering the next generation of craft professionals by visiting