KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About 150 high school students are learning about careers in construction Tuesday. The event is designed to help prevent a shortage of skilled trade workers.

According to the group ConstructReach, half of the current construction workforce is over the age of 46. Industry leaders say there’s a growing need for younger, diverse talent to fill the pipeline. That’s why this event gives high schoolers a hands-on opportunity to explore different careers in skilled trades.

The group says half of the generation now entering the workforce are minorities, and it’s important for them to see that they can be part of an industry that’s been dominated by white men.

“We create an immersive experience,” Paul Robinson, CEO and founder of ConstructReach, said. “There’s hands-on activities that correlate to the actual project taking place and they get a chance to participate in hands-on activities that correlate to that. And each one of those opportunities introduces them to a different career. So that exposure is key for them. And they get a chance to see that they can actually do this.”

Pay also is a powerful motivator. High school students often don’t realize they can earn a family-supporting living working in construction.

College and the debt often associated with it, may not be the best path for their futures.

Students from Oak Park High School, North Kansas City High School, Winnetonka High School, and Staley High School all participated in the “I Built This” event.

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