JANESVILLE, Wis. — Students from all over southern Wisconsin recently got to try out different careers in construction.

What You Need To Know

  • Construction companies are facing a half-million worker shortage

  • Only about 11% of construction workers are women

  • Companies are looking to the next generation to join the construction industry

According to national firm Associated Builders and Contractors, construction companies will need to attract nearly 550,000 additional workers. That’s on top of their normal hiring to meet demands in the years ahead. Last year, ABC reported the construction industry averaged more than 390,000 openings per month.

Construction firms aren’t just looking for skilled labor workers to fill positions. They’re looking for the next generation of construction workers.  

J.P. Cullen hosted a career fair Thursday. Students from dozens of high schools attended. Most of them were in construction, manufacturing or welding classes. Students got to try things like using a jackhammer, pouring concrete and flying drones.

Finding the right people for construction isn’t easy, according to J.P. Cullen apprenticeship director Maurie Mueller.

“You gotta make sure you have the right fit for the trades,” Mueller said. “You gotta have people that are interested in being outside working in the elements, whether it’s the summertime months or the wintertime months. You know, not everybody is cut out for construction.”

Emma Staack is a sophomore at Beloit Turner High School, and Caitlin Wirth is a senior. They both enjoy working with their hands.

“I like the manufacturing and welding stuff at our school,” Staack said. “It’s calming to me.”

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 11% of construction workers are women. Staack and Wirth are often some of the only girls in their trades classes.

“I’m the only girl in my construction class,” Wirth said.

Getting girls interested in construction could help prop up the industry.

“I feel like this is my place,” Staack said.