Construction industry looking to draw in recent grads

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NAPLES, Fla.- To help fix the lack of skilled labor workers in Southwest Florida, Collier County Public Schools and local businesses have teamed up to get qualified students right out of high school.

“We know that there are thousands of jobs available, we also know that students aren’t always aware of what’s available in their own community,” said Dale Johnson, supervisor of Career & Technical Education Programs in Collier County.

“One of the top industries in Collier County is construction,” said Eric Morris, vice president of BCB Homes. “We need these kids because our workforce is aging and if they don’t come do it, then who is?”

Morris says they’ve hired several students out of high school, including two recent graduates from Lely High School.

“We have an untapped labor force here in collier county that we’re not even getting to and trying to bring people from out of the state or out of other counties to Naples is pretty hard because Naples is a pretty expensive place to move to,” Morris said.

During a career fair Thursday morning, nearly 300 students in the construction academies at Palmetto Ridge High School and Lely High school were able to learn more about the opportunities available.

“It’s not just a job, it’s something that they’re going to hopefully do their whole life and have a career,” Morris said. “Maybe move up to a foreman someday or maybe move up to start their own company, there’s a lot of those opportunities out there.”

“It makes it a little better because it’s hope,” said Justin Brown, a senior at Palmetto Ridge High School. “They’re giving us a lot of useful information: how to get the jobs we want further in our lives, how to make ourselves more presentable and acceptable for the job we want.”

Thursday was the first time the school district held a construction-related career fair for students. School officials say they plan on continuing to provide similar events in the future.

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