By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
Event Allows NH youth to Explore Construction, Transportation Careers
NEW BOSTON — Hundreds of students in New Hampshire left their classrooms on Thursday for a unique, hands-on experience in the fields of construction and transportation.
The two-day event kicked off on Thursday at the 4-H grounds of the Hillsborough County Youth Center Foundation where about 75 exhibits were on display teaching children about careers in welding, plumbing, surveying, electricity and more.
“The whole goal is to expose kids to the trades,” said Meghan Theriault, director of public works for Goffstown and one of the co-organizers of the 10th annual New Hampshire Construction Career Days. “I think the trades have been suffering, and we are trying to bring light to this issue.”
Not every high school graduate wants to attend a four-year college, according to Theriault, who stressed that many interesting careers are available with good pay and opportunities for advancement. Companies such as Paradigm Plumbing, Longchamps Electrical, EnviroVantage, Maine Drill, Methuen Construction and more were on hand to speak with students, answer questions and give them a chance to attempt some simple job tasks. Student participants were given the opportunity to test drive tractor-trailers, maneuver excavators, climb trees, make cobblestones out of granite and more.
“This was a lot harder than I thought,” Mason Bennett, a freshman from Alvirne High School, said after driving an excavator while attempting to pick up balls and place them into a bucket using the machine.
Jackson Parker of Reed & Reed General Contractors said the career day event is a great way to engage youth and get them thinking about their future. “I worry about the age of our workforce all the time,” said Parker. “This gives young people a chance to explore all sorts of jobs that could eventually lead them to a successful career.”
More than 1,900 high school students from 54 middle and high schools are attending the event, which continues on Friday. “It is fun to pick their brains a little,” said Paul Bedard of Pawjer Earth Products. Bedard brought several large pieces of granite salvaged from a construction project in Manchester to the event. Teens had the chance to make cobblestones out of the large granite pieces. Cody Crossland, a sophomore at Alvirne High School, said he was looking forward to Thursday’s field trip and learning more about the various careers in transportation.
“I have thought about entering the trades,” said Crossland, who enjoys working on trucks and dirt bikes.
The two-day event coincided with the launch of the Construction Sector Partnership within the New Hampshire Sector Partnership Initiative — an industry driven effort to help businesses address workforce needs focusing on construction, health care, hospitality, manufacturing and technology. According to a release, New Hampshire’s construction sector represented about 32,000 jobs in 2017, with a projected 3 percent increase between 2018 and 2022. “About 22 percent of people working in this industry are age 55 or older and are expected to retire within the next 10 years, promising to create an extremely competitive recruiting landscape,” states the release.