Career education was taken to a new level last fall, when six community colleges across the state brought hundreds of students on campus to learn about their future job opportunities in the construction industry.
Nebraska Construction Career Days (NECCD), held last year for the first time in the State of Nebraska, were a series of construction-related hands-on career fairs held in September and October 2015.
They featured a unique approach to career and educational promotion that centered on a public-private partnership between 1) state agencies and associations leading education and funding of construction, 2) construction industry related firms/organizations and 3) technical education institutions. The colleges participating were located throughout the state of Nebraska and included Southeast Community College-Milford, Northeast Community College-Norfolk, Central Community College-Hastings, Metropolitan Community College-Omaha, Mid-Plains Community College-North Platte, and Western Community College-Scottsbluff.
Over 300 Nebraska schools were contacted by phone, email and social media outreach. More than 250 companies and businesses were approached by phone and email. These efforts resulted in 695 registered participants from middle and high schools representing 102 different institutions from across Nebraska. Over 110 principals, guidance counselors, teachers, and parents also attended these events. The college and industry partners set up and staffed 118 different learning stations over the six different locations.
The 52 industry partners and agencies combined with 75 student-volunteers and over 118 college instructors, staff, and administrators helped to make all six of these informative hands on Career Days fun and educational.
In an effort to better understand the ability of this approach to generate interest in construction and related careers, we asked the registrants to identify their grade level, gender and ethnicity.
Of the registrants 617 students were male and 78 were female, 132 were minority and 563 were non-minority.
Before and after every NECCD event, participants were surveyed regarding their interest in construction careers, their career plans, perceived ability to attend college, and their knowledge/perception of a variety of construction careers.
One fact in particular I learned was that there was an overall increase in interest in those students who were very interested in construction-related careers by 11 percent, from 31 percent to 42 percent. Of special note, in the pre-survey only 9 percent of women were very interested in construction related careers, but in the post survey 43 percent were very interested, a 400 percent increase in the number of young women who are excited about entering a career in the construction industry. In the post-survey 87 percent of the students were more or extremely interested in a construction career.
As we well know, Facebook is very important to high school students, so we incorporated it with our daily sessions. Facebook analytics showed that content after the first four events resulted in 1,725,640 impressions at the end of a 28-day period between September and October. Fifty percent of the Facebook fans of Nebraska Construction Career Days were women.
Due to the overwhelming success, and over 95 percent of the students surveyed reporting that they want to attend again next year and bring their friends, we will again be hosting Nebraska Construction Career Days this fall. Our goal is to reach over 2,000 students and 30 percent female attendance in 2016.
For more information please contact:
Mary Johnsen, Integrated Global Dimension, 402-239-1386 or at mary(at)igdinaction.com.