When the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S. in March, Associated General Contractors of California was deep into rolling out Build California, a two-pronged campaign to recruit middle and high school students to the trades. AGC aspired to keep up with military recruiters, who are a constant presence at career fairs and on campuses. Officials also launched a multi-platform digital campaign based on a series of focus groups with members of Generation Z, young people born in the mid-1990s through early 2010s.
When school closings made in-person recruitment impossible, ACG seized the opportunity to up its digital game, adding Instagram Live sessions and other online strategies that meet younger generations where they are, according to AGC of California Vice President of Workforce and Community Development Erin Volk.
Construction firms have kept their programs focused on the next generation up and running during this time, too. At Rosendin, one of the nation’s largest electrical contractors based in San Jose, California, managers ran training programs even during the height of the shutdowns. Its apprenticeship for electrical workers barely slowed down thanks to a blended learning program with a strong online component that company leaders implemented in 2018, said David Elkins, vice president of operations.
When the in-person classrooms that trainees attended once or twice a week were shut down, instructors held classes using Zoom and WebEx, and the apprentices were able to advance through the program and graduate.
Industry experts say it’s important to keep the pipeline of young workers open during the crisis. Even