R.I. Construction Career Day to attract hundreds of students to RIDOT facility, May 13-14

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URI, RIDOT celebrate 10-year anniversary of first event in nation

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 12, 2009 – The University of Rhode Island Transportation Center and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation expect more than 1,000 high school students to attend the annual Construction Career Days at the RIDOT facility in East Greenwich on May 13 and 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Designed to encourage teenagers to consider careers in the construction field, the event is one of more than 50 similar events held around the nation each year and supported by the National Construction Career Days Center at URI.

The event will provide students with an opportunity to operate backhoes, asphalt rollers, cherry pickers, jackhammers and other equipment affiliated with the construction industry.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first such event, which was held in Texas in 2000. Since then, more than 250 events have been held throughout the country, introducing more than 290,000 students to the construction industry.

“While the program has grown tremendously, it still retains the core values that made it successful,” said Humberto Martinez, co-founder of the programs. “Events continue to be hands-on, involve a variety of activities to engage a diversity of youth, represent a wide range of industry sectors and labor, promote safety, and are planned and hosted by volunteers working at the grassroots level.”

What started as an informal discussion in 1997 between Martinez and several others about the severe shortage of skilled workers in the highway construction industry has developed into a successful national program, which continues to grow and introduce construction careers to the future workforce.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the average age of workers in the skilled trades is 47 and construction occupations are projected to grow 11 percent through the year 2016. These figures make programs such as Construction Career Days an important workforce development tool.

For more information about the program, contact Jeffrey Cathcart at the URI Transportation Center at 401-874-9405. Construction Career Days will take place at the RIDOT facility located at 2400 New London Turnpike, East Greenwich.