Who will replace today’s retirees after they leave the construction workforce? How will today’s young adults prepare to inherit those jobs? And who will provide the training?
Those concerns are being addressed through a series of job fairs jointly organized by ITD and the Idaho Department of Labor. ITD secured a $38,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to help fund the series of eight career fairs and workshops held throughout the state this year.
The series began April 7 with “Hammers, Hard Hats & Hot Dogs,” at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds in Coeur d’Alene. The second annual “Heavy Metal and Ca$hing In” career fair followed April 28-29 at the College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls.
Other events that have taken place in the series include: the annual Clearwater Career Fair in Orofino (April 29); the “Hot Rod, Hot Jobs and Hot Dog” event at the Owyhee County Fairgrounds in Homedale; “Hammers, Hard Hats and Hot Dogs at the Bannock County Fairgrounds in Pocatello (May 14); and “Rigs & Gigs”, a hands-on career exploration event in Boise (May 15).
Two others are planned this summer: the “Salmon Career Expo,” Sept. 22, Lemhi County Fairgrounds, Salmon; and a Sept. 29 career fair at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston.
ITD and the Department of Labor are collaborating with other public and private partners to expand the career fairs to locations throughout the state. The focus is careers in highway construction trades, according to the Department of Labor officials.
Highway construction projects and the thousands of jobs they create have helped the economy weather the current downturn. Many of those projects were funded through the federal stimulus program, “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”
Students from five rural school districts in southwestern Idaho got a hands-on introduction to skilled trades and other occupations during the career fair in Homedale.
Representatives from more than three dozen businesses, the military, government agencies and educational institutions like the College of Western Idaho met with students from school districts in Canyon and Owyhee counties.
“As the economy begins to recover, the career possibilities awaiting our high school students are expanding,” said John Allen, a consultant with the Idaho Department of Labor, which co-sponsored the Homedale event along with the Canyon-Owyhee School Service Agency.
“It is never too early for young people to begin thinking about what they want to do and what they can do best in the future,” Allen said. “This career fair gives them the opportunity.”