The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and Volvo Construction Equipment have signed an agreement which makes Volvo the presenting sponsor for AEM’s annual Construction Challenge teen competition. The challenge is a creative problem-solving program that educates young people about the value of construction industry careers, as well as industry contributions to improved quality of life.
Under the agreement, Volvo is the exclusive official presenting sponsor of the challenge competition for 2010 to 2014. The AEM Construction Challenge presented by Volvo Construction Equipment includes the challenge finals at the triennial ConExpo-Con/AGG exposition (2011 and 2014), the challenge program within Destination ImagiNation’s yearly Global Finals, and regional rally qualifying events.
Dennis Slater, AEM president, stated: “Volvo has been a team sponsor since the first AEM challenge. This new and greatly enhanced level of support will enable us to extend the reach of the program, and bring more of the ’best and the brightest’ into the construction industry. We applaud Volvo’s initiative and forward-thinking leadership in helping build the construction workforce of the future.”
Göran Lindgren, president of Volvo Construction Equipment North America, stated: “The prosperity of our industry very much depends on the availability of a qualified workforce. We at Volvo are committed to supporting efforts that develop the workforce of tomorrow. We look forward to working with AEM on promoting the value of construction and the construction industry in communities across North America.”
AEM initiated the Construction Challenge in 2007 as an engaging way to help students learn firsthand about careers in construction. Despite recent job losses, the construction sector still faces a severe shortage of qualified workers to meet future needs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the construction industry needs to attract 240,000 workers each year to replace those leaving the industry and to allow for growth. By 2020 manufacturing overall faces a skilled worker shortage of 13 to 15 million with no growth in the 18 to 26-year-old age group.
AEM partners with the global creativity organization, Destination ImagiNation (DI), and a construction-themed challenge is an integral component of DI’s core program. DI programs foster creative problem solving through hands-on teamwork. They are offered in more than 30 countries, reaching more than 100,000 student participants each year. In addition, the ConExpo-Con/AGG exposition hosts a special edition of the Construction Challenge in show years, to provide teens with even more exposure to the construction industry.
Since its inception, the challenge has already directly engaged 3,000 middle and high school students across North America, and the program and its messages have made an impression on more than 18 million students on a global level. Nearly 70 percent of challenge participants said they are now considering a construction career.
AEM has received national recognition from association and trade show groups for the challenge’s innovative approach to workforce development. The awards cited the challenge’s creativity, utility and value, and deemed the AEM program “heads and shoulders above other [industry] recruitment efforts” because of the innovative partnering with Destination ImagiNation and a commitment to measuring program results.