Two years ago, the Tennessee General Assembly set up funding for Go Build Tennessee Inc., a nonprofit that would spread the word to high-school and postsecondary students about careers in construction.
The $3.5 million publicity effort and a nonprofit made up of representatives from commercial, industrial, residential, and road building contractors and subcontractors has a goal of encouraging and promoting career opportunities in the construction industry in Tennessee’s secondary schools, postsecondary schools, colleges of applied technology and community colleges.
“While much work remains to be done, our impact has already been measurable and real,” says Ryan Dwyer, director of operations for Go Build Tennessee.
He adds Go Build Tennessee has communicated with young people and their influencers – such as parents and teachers – in all 95 counties in Tennessee in the program’s first year.
Among the efforts:
— 145,000 Facebook views of Go Build TN videos
— 38,000 website visits by Tennesseans for a combined total of more than 110k webpage views
— More than 9,000 Facebook followers
— 22,000 television advertisements
— 150 Go Build Toolkits sent to educators, teachers and training programs throughout the state for use in class or at career fairs
— 70 million impressions in total, representing the number of times Go Build’s message was seen or heard throughout the state
Dwyer says the Go Build Tennessee website features 109 in-state training programs.
“We’ve highlighted the top demanded occupations in a series of videos that accompany their relevant trade profiles on gobuildtennessee.com. These top demand occupations are: carpenters, welders, road builders, electricians, masons, equipment operators, plumbers and pipe fitters and more.’’
Dwyer notes the program’s mission is to “keep our workforce strong and steady and that starts by inspiring young people to consider a career in the skilled trades.”
Interest in working in the skilled trades, he adds, “has been on a steady decline due to continued misperceptions about the wages, opportunities and career pathways,” a decline “compounded by the elimination of construction-related vocational programs with the push of four-year degrees and worsened by the exodus of workers and economic impact of the Great Recession of the late 2000s.”
The program doesn’t have numerical goals on enrolling students in training programs or having students complete a course of training, Dwyer adds.
In Alabama, where the program originated in 2010, he says, “we’ve been able to increase construction-related CTE (career and technical education) course enrollments by 24 percent, and as a result of student demand for construction-related courses, add 125 new training programs throughout the state of Alabama.”
Funding for Go Build Tennessee comes from contractor licensing fees paid to the state board for licensing contractors. Under the statute, the nonprofit received an initial one-time transfer of $1.75 million before the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year.
In later years, the nonprofit is to receive half of any licensing fees remaining after the state board’s expenses. The statute and Go Build Tennessee remain in effect until July 1, 2019. News releases announcing Go Build Tennessee described a $3.5 million publicity effort.
This article originally appeared in the Ledger.