Two organizations have partnered to build a career training center in North Kansas City
The Builders, a chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, and Burns & McDonnell, have launched the Career Development & Exploration Center (CDEC), an educational and training facility. The center is dedicated to training the next generation of construction professionals and inspiring interest in a career in construction.
“We’re experiencing a construction renaissance, fueled by a massive investment into our infrastructure,” said Matt Ralston, senior vice president of construction at Burns & McDonnell. “The single most important resource we need to accomplish this is people. Above all we need skilled men and women in our construction trades. They are the ones that will be safely and successfully building the future state of America.”
According to a recent survey from Associated General Contractors, 85% of construction firms report having open positions they are trying to fill. Among those firms, nearly 90% are having trouble filling some of those positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of construction laborers is projected to grow 4% a year over the next decade, leading to more than 150,000 openings a year on average.
“The CDEC is really going to support our mission to improve lives by advancing the construction industry,” said Dr. Caleb McCandless, vice president of education and training for The Builders. “The two things we’re focusing most on are safety and introducing young people to the trades and all the careers available to them in construction.”
The 3,300-square-foot CDEC features hands-on exhibits that help mimic real-life scenarios for a career in the construction trades. It also provides practical information about the types of careers available in the trades. Construction safety is a major focus of the CDEC, with exhibits dedicated to the history of construction safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), fall protection and energy isolation safety measures.
The space also includes an 8-foot-by-32-foot industrial training module, fabricated by AZCO, a Burns & McDonnell company. The module includes common structural, electrical, instrumentation, mechanical and process components and will be used to train early-career professionals on scenarios they would see on a typical jobsite.
The Builders is a chapter of the AGC, a nonprofit commercial construction trade association that trains more than 2,000 apprentices. Burns & McDonnell will bring between 100 and 200 early-career construction professionals to the facility each year from field locations throughout the country, as well as its Kansas City headquarters.
Additions to the CDEC are already being planned for 2024.
“One of my first jobs out of college was as an educator in the Teach for America program,” said Missouri State Sen. Lauren Arthur, who spoke at the grand opening and represents the district where the CDEC is located. “There I saw firsthand the importance of connecting students with the skills they need after they graduate. We’re making historic investments in our workforce because behind every job is a person, and investing in people will always yield the greatest return.”