Haslam to high school kids: Go to work in construction business

A year after he signed the enabling legislation into law, Gov. Bill Haslam joined construction industry leaders Wednesday in launching a marketing campaign called “Go Build Tennessee” to encourage high school students to consider careers in the building trades, reports Richard Locker.

Tennessee is the third state with a similar program, following Alabama, where it began in 2010, and Georgia, in 2012. It uses an array of media, public relations and outreach efforts targeting students as early as junior high to consider careers as boilermakers, carpenters, electricians, electric linemen, equipment operators, iron workers, masons, plumbers and pipe fitters, road builders, sheet metal workers, welders and other trades.

Haslam said that for every five skilled tradesmen about to retire, only one new worker is in the, education, training and apprenticeship pipeline to replace them. And he said the construction industry is expected to grow 22 percent over the next decade.

“For anybody who’s seen the growth happening in Nashville and across the state, the challenge for us is … across all the different aspects of construction,” the governor said. “What we hope this effort will do is help young people know, ‘Hey, that’s a great career opportunity for me and something I should think seriously about,’ because it’s a realistic career path that can provide a great occupation.”

State lawmakers in 2015 approved the “Go Build Tennessee Act,” creating a nonprofit corporation and board to run the program and diverting about $3 million in surplus contractor-licensing fees collected by the state into the program, over the next three years to pay for it. The bill was proposed and lobbied for by the Tennessee Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors of Tennessee, the Home Builders Association of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Road Builders Association.