Every fall, high school juniors and seniors in southern Colorado have the opportunity to spend a day learning hands-on skills and techniques in the construction industry to learn more about careers they could go into.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, the Southern Colorado Construction Career Day Foundation, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to educating younger generations about careers in the construction industry, will host the 10th annual Construction Career Days event at the Norris Penrose Event Center on 1045 Lower Gold Camp Road.

From 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., students will get hands-on experience in a trade skill such as masonry and carpentry and be able to operate heavy equipment. They will also learn about what careers are available in the construction industry.

About 50 industry booths will be at the event, offering hands-on opportunities for students to learn about a trade.

The El Paso County Contractors Association, IBEW/Colorado Springs Electrical JATC and the National Association of Women in Construction sponsor the annual event.

The goal of the event gives students the chance to learn about every aspect of the construction industry, said Francis Vigil, vice president for Construction Career Days and training director for Colorado Springs Electrical JATC.

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“It gives more people the knowledge that there is something besides college,” Vigil said. “With Construction Career Days, a lot of kids never hear about apprenticeship programs — schools never talk about it. If your mom or dad never worked in construction then you never hear about it.”

Construction jobs provide great benefits and cannot be outsourced; it’s another way to make a good living, Vigil said.

“Probably more than half of the apprentices I have in my program now tried college, and it just wasn’t for them,” Vigil added.

On average, Construction Career Days sees 600 students from schools in Colorado Springs, Lamar and New Mexico, according to Vigil.

“Putting this on, 600 kids know about the electrical construction field and that just increases our application pool as far as people that actually want to do this instead of somebody coming down here and applying that’s never seen anything about electrical, these kids have an idea,” Vigil said.

Construction companies, including Colorado Springs Electrical JATC have benefitted from this event. One of Vigil’s current third-year apprentices applied to Vigil’s apprenticeship program and was accepted after learning about it at the Construction Career Days.

Vigil said construction companies in every area of the industry have gained apprentices from students who came to Construction Career Days.

High school students who enter into the construction field started making more than $50,000 a year once they finished their apprenticeships.

In Vigil’s program, electrician and telecommunication data apprentices can complete the program with 55 college credits. He said that many apprentices pursue their engineering degrees after they complete the apprenticeship.

“Our apprentices go through this program — if they pay attention, there’s nothing they can’t do” Vigil said. “You work around guys that can teach you their tricks and trades.”

Students, educators, families and businesses should all consider supporting Construction Career Days, Vigil said.

“You get 600 kids there every year, some of them are going to go into construction, some who never have heard about it, but they get to experience it hands on,” he said.

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