MSD training students for potential future in construction trade

MEDFORD, Ore. — With the recent wildfires, Southern Oregon’s building industry has taken a hit.

Two high schools in Medford are doing what they can do to get students ready for a potential future in the construction trade.

The Southern Oregon Builders Association said there is a shortage of resources and skilled labor in the industry and it’s more noticeable than ever due to the recent wildfires.

“Here we are in 2020 and we only have 40% of the workforce that we had a dozen years ago,” said Brad Bennington with the Southern Oregon Builders Association.

The association said there are not enough skilled people available to do all of the work that needs to be done.

In a time like this, that help is needed more than ever.

Bennington said, “Our contractors being as engaged and productive as they can,  still could not even before the fires, even could not meet all of the demands for building services that our community has.”

Medford School District High Schools are offering a pre-apprenticeship program in construction technology and education.

With the current circumstances, a program like this couldn’t come at a better time.

“The construction industry and our career technical education program courses are really important to the economy in the valley, and we need to keep these students that learn with their hands active in education, ” says Justin Eagar, CTE Program Teacher.

The CTE program gives students the necessary skills to meet qualifications to enter apprenticeship programs or the workforce.

South Medford’s program covers construction trades like electrical, plumbing, residential and commercial construction and also heating and air conditioning.

“I want to help kids figure out that the construction industry is a great career path, we can make lots of money, we can provide for our families, we can have fun, we can work with our hands, it’s really great and we have some great tools to get students there,” said Eagar.

Anyone is eligible to take the class if they are interested in pursuing it as a career.

Freshman, Silvano Pineda said he joined to help out his father’s business. “My dad is in construction and fencing, so I wanted to learn a little bit more to go out and help him.”

The program has been around for three years, but Eagar said it is growing as well as they had hoped.

Southern Oregon Builders Association says there are many opportunities for work.

If you would like to get involved in the industry, they can be a resource for you.

The Oregon Department of Education says that the high school graduation rate for CTE concentrators is 90%, 15% higher than the national average.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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