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Education Matters: Kerman High School students get involved in the construction industry

KERMAN, California - Construction industry leaders say the Central Valley is experiencing a period of record growth yet at the same time facing a huge shortage of skilled workers.

Leaders in the industry are teaming up with Fresno county schools to encourage more students to enter the trades. Students in the ROP construction technology program at Kerman High School are learning the skills of the trade.

"They will learn most skills provided, necessary for residential construction from frame to finish," stated teacher Daniel Ramirez. 

They are using those skills to build their second tiny house. This construction project is the best kind of hands on experience because students learn everything they need to know to build a house.

"You learn to put up roofing you learn to put up studs, flooring so everything we learn like if you want to become a worker in like building constructing it really helps you," stated Kerman High School student Robert Patterson. 

Instructor, Daniel Ramirez says the Kerman program prides itself on running the classroom like a job site…with students using their skills to complete real projects, there first tiny house is up for sale

Students like 17-year-old Robert Patterson are coming into the industry at the right time. Mike Spencer, the president of Harris Construction says the industry is entering a period of unprecedented growth.

"We are going to have more jobs in the construction industry probably in my entire lifetime and our entire lifetime because of the high speed rail, because of the activity going on in healthcare," said Mike Spencer, president of  Harris Construction.

At the same time there is this huge demand for jobs; Spencer says there is a real shortage of skilled workers

At the company's 4th annual skilled trades student workshop, Spencer talked to students about the billions of dollars that will pour into the industry and the need for workers skilled in the trades

"We bring them here to show them an opportunity of what it might be like to be in our business both either as skilled trades which are very good careers or experience what they could do for a management prospective," he stated. 

The workshop focused on the many skill trades that are part of the construction industry. Students could go from station to station for a hands on experience with concrete finishing, or operating equipment like a boom lift. 

At each station is a trained Harris employee, someone that not only guides students but also mentors them. 

"It was a good job, good pay. I worked my way up through the apprenticeship and came up and work my way up to where I am now," said Harris employee Martin Zuniga. 

Students, including those from Kerman High School's construction program said they got a lot from their day at Harris and saw it as a huge motivator.

"I think it's a good motivation for me just to get out there and start working right after high school, working with my hands and get to working," said student Jacob Vallejo.


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