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Kids Look to Future With Career Days

Sat April 22, 2000 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Thousands of students recently were introduced to the exciting career opportunities within the construction industries.

Approximately 3,200 career and technology students from 45 schools representing 32 independent school districts were transported out to the Eagle Mountain Lake Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Field Day site. Students visited with the construction industry in the Second Annual Construction Career Days Exposition. The event was sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of Texas (AGC) Highway, Heavy, Utilities & Industrial Branch.

Local equipment distributors brought out almost a dozen machines and qualified supervising operators, so that the young people could actually operate and dig. Crescent Machinery, Darr Equipment Co., Darr Rental Co., Witch Company of North Texas, Sunstate Equipment Co. and RDO Equipment Co., all brought backhoes, mini-excavators and skid steer loaders for the young people to try.

According to 35-year industry veteran, John Head, senior service communicator and training instructor for Darr Equipment Co., “I was impressed with all of the kids who operated the backhoes I supervised. They were surprisingly inquisitive, a very quick study, and really took to the joystick computerized machine controls easily.

“They all reflected very positively on their school programs and instructors. I hope our Recruiter took a lot of applications. And I’d like to see more than a few of these young people on Darr scholarships at schools like TSTC, Eastfield (DCCCD), or TCC; and, then in our shops and field service trucks in the very near future,” he said.

Committee Chairman, Mike LaPointe, president of J.L. Steel Inc., said, “North Texas Construction needs good kids like these now. The average age of skilled crafts people nationally is 48 years old. Most of these skilled experts make in excess of $40,000 to $50,000 a year. There needs to be continuity in all of the skilled crafts.”

One of the many main reasons for Construction Career Days is to inform students about the critical shortage of trained service technicians and trained operators. Today’s equipment is so much more sophisticated to operate and to repair than ever before. For example, a ten-year-old Caterpillar 777 model mining truck has more computer power onboard than that of the original lunar landing module that took Neil Armstrong and his NASA astronaut team to the moon first in 1969. And, computerized load-sensing, a productivity and safety feature available standard on almost every brand of excavator today, allows fine work in much more difficult digging environments than ever before.

Construction is the second largest employment segment of the national economy and there are about 250,000 job vacancies today in construction nationally. There are an estimated 3,000 unfilled construction jobs in the local Metroplex and North Texas area presently as well.

According to Texas Education Agency (TEA) data, only 44.1 percent of all Texas high school graduates go to a four-year college; and, less than 9 percent of all the students who start high school in Texas graduate from a four-year college. The other 55.9 percent and 91-plus percent of all of our educated young people need more exposure to the long-term career opportunities and benefits of industry groups like construction.

Numerous scholarships are immediately available to those who can qualify with the minimum of a high school diploma, and sufficient skills scores on tests such as the Bennet Can Test for prospective service technicians. (Call Darr, Continental, RDO, Crescent and Vermeer for more details.)

For more information about Career Days or other AGC events, call 972/580-8685.

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