‘Build My Future’ event helps students find options besides college

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B & I Construction (WINK News)

Isaiah Vargas is just 19 years old and a South Fort Myers graduate.

Now, he’s working full time in construction with B & I Contractors.

“There’s a lot to learn and you can have a long career with it,” he said.

Vargas is a concrete example of how a career showcase day can work.

He went to a “Build My Future” event during his senior year and met people looking to hire.

“They showed me what they do every day and from there on, I knew I wanted to be a welder,” he said.

Lee County Public Schools and the Lee Building Industry Association put on the “Build My Future” event to show students there are other options besides college; options that pay well and address the construction worker shortage.

“The skilled worker shortage is primarily attributed to, I think, the rate of growth in our area,” said B & I Contractor SWFL Regional Department Manager Victor Pimentel. “The industry has grown exponentially and the labor market hasn’t.”

Not keeping up with the demand could drive up costs for us, like buying a home. But construction companies need new blood for other reasons too.

“If we just continue with the same labor force that we have now, as workers are aging, they reach a point where they’re out and bringing younger people in, it’s the future of building in our community,” said Pimentel.

A future Vargas says is secure.

“It’s cool to know since I’ve been living here, going around the city, seeing things develop and knowing I could help build those things,” he said.

Construction workers just starting out will make entry-level pay. But with experience, they can soar into the 50s, 60, or even 70s in short order.

Parents: Lee County Schools are partnering with the Lee Building Industry Association for another “Build My Future” trade show on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Lee Civic Center.

More than 700 students will get a hands-on introduction by going from booth to booth to see what it’s like to build a bridge, fix an A/C system, lay bricks, move machinery and more.

For additional information on the event, click here.

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