Honolulu has seen dozens of new housing and commercial development projects in recent years that continue to change the city's landscape as its population exceeds one million. The engine behind this progress is Hawaii's construction workforce, a dynamic industry filled with a variety of professions from planners, designers and engineers to masons, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and ironworkers, among many others. Collectively, the trades comprising this workforce were responsible for an estimated record-high $5.52 billion in completed construction of residential, commercial, industrial and government contracts statewide in 2015 alone.
Approximately 1,400 students from 13 public high schools and one charter school got a chance to participate in the state Department of Transportation's (DOT) 10th annual Hawaii Construction Career Days event at the Aloha Stadium recently to get a first-hand glimpse into these productive construction professions.
"This event exposes our students to construction and trade jobs by using real-world equipment and allows them to talk with professionals about their careers in great detail," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, "This opportunity is extremely beneficial for students who plan to or are thinking about entering the construction industry after graduation."
Thirty-nine sponsor organizations, including more than a dozen of Hawaii's largest construction companies, allowed students to operate heavy equipment including excavators, cranes, bulldozers, backhoes, cement mixers and other types of industrial vehicles. Students also got to control such specialized equipment as scissor lifts, forklifts, jackhammers and industrial drills, all under the supervision of industry professionals.
After taking the controls of a full-sized industrial excavator, Kasidee Teixeria, a junior at Waialua High said, "It's fun to see how the machines operate. I'm very hands on and like to be outdoors. My goal is to pursue that type of job after high school."
The two-day event also allowed students a look into construction trades, featuring representatives from such specialties as carpenters, painters, tapers, floor layers, glaziers, electricians, laborers, masons, operating engineers, plumbers, roofers, insulators and ironworkers. Students were able to experience using specialized trade tools and compete in skill-building exercises like a concrete construction obstacle course and timed carpentry trials.
Career booths from a variety of organizations were also available to provide detailed information about the construction field and professions. Each student participant was provided with a backpack, hardhat, safety goggles and earplugs for protection as they circulated through the event areas.
The event is aligned with the goals of HIDOE's Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, which prepares students for careers through exploration and the practical application of academic and technical knowledge. CTE courses can help committed students get a head start on career preparation with course content that is developed cooperatively with business and industry input.
"It's important to reach the younger generation and get them interested in the different trades," said teacher Glenn Young from Castle High School. "This function brings all of the trades together and shows the students a variety of job opportunities in the construction industry. They learn that anything is possible, they just have to try."
Students interested in construction careers should speak with a guidance counselor for more information on the CTE Industrial and Engineering Technology Career Pathway. This robust program includes such occupational focuses as Building and Construction; Design, Engineering and Electrical Technology; Manufacturing and Transportation, and many more.
View our Facebook photo album here.