Reno Contractors Predict Worker Shortage - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno Contractors Predict Worker Shortage

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For his students, Reed High math teacher Kaho Chan sees construction work…as opportunity. As he told us, "Construction is such a great opportunity for young people because there's so many careers out there." From insulation to ironworker...from plumber to painter, and it all pays very well. Melissa Duvall of the Nevada Chapter AGC (Associated General Contractors) told us journeymen can make around 50 grand a year and up. Hearing this, math teacher Chan told us, "I might even change my career after today!"

Yet it seems like an odd time to consider it. Most jackhammers are still silent in Reno…Nevada's construction industry has yet to hit its stride. But there's promise ahead. Duvall told us, "In the next 5 to 10 years, we're going to have a real shortage of workers. There are great career opportunities for the kids who are in school right now."

That's partly because so many workers left town when things hit bottom. When the jobs do come back, Lemmon Valley ESL (English as a second language) teacher Barbara Barnes wants her students to be ready: "My students being bilingual, I think they have an extra opportunity to be at a high level."

But the construction industry as we all knew it won't be the same. Like just about every career, construction is getting more high tech, and complicated. Besides math and science, you now need to know computers…lots of computers. When today's students get their first construction job, it will be much more than swinging a hammer. They'll be more likely to work from a desktop. Traditional equipment is moving into America's attic next to the typewriter and record player, replaced by GPS units and digital mapping.

How do you prepare students for a career that has dramatically changed? To school educators for this new reality, the Nevada Chapter Associated General Contractors held an information session for teachers at the Reno Boys and Girls Club on Thursday, showing them what how they've moved light years away from the days of toolboxes and backhoes, and how they now need mad computer skills. As Double Diamond teacher Christine Wells said, "They're not going to have a choice to be honest. All our children are going to have to be computer literate and using applications, even if they're in construction."

She thinks her students can handle it. She'll help them along if they can't.

-written by John Potter

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