ACAD students have been attending employer engagement sessions every Wednesday to learn more about what construction industry companies are looking for in prospective employees. “The company representatives are talking with scholars about what skills they need to have, and what the industry is calling for today,” explained ACAD Director Shelly Karriem. “They’re asking scholars what skills they have that would make them marketable.”
ACAD staff participate in these sessions to find out what additional skills or opportunities they need to provide to scholars. “For example, our scholars don’t usually have driver’s licenses, because they use public transportation and their families don’t have cars,” said Karriem. “But if they’re on a job site, they may need to drive, and they need a license. So we found driver’s license study guides we are providing to scholars. If there’s something they haven’t learned, we facilitate it or direct them to where they need to go to get it.”
Miller and Long, Shapiro and Duncan, Relux Homes, and CJ Coakley are some of the companies that have participated in employer engagement sessions so far, and continue to offer opportunities to ACAD. “CJ Coakley hires every Monday and Wednesday in Fairfax,” said Karriem. “We plan to bring scholars out so they can apply.”
Although the construction industry is the second largest employer in the US, after the US government, many people don’t realize all of the possible career paths that fall within construction. Karriem reminds ACAD scholars that, in addition to construction workers, they could become architects, designers, engineers, electricians, human resources specialists, government relations officers, and a host of other specialties within construction. Many ACAD scholars have paid for their college education with construction industry jobs that they work during school breaks or gap years. Some scholars then have full-time jobs waiting for them after graduation.