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I Build America – Ohio


Workforce development, particularly in the construction industry has become such an important and well publicized issue.

Ever since 2007, as a result of the recession, there has been a decline of workers in the construction industry.  At that time, when there was less work, many construction workers trained for other jobs or retired.  As a result, as construction picked up when the economy recovered there was a shortage of workers.  The displacement of this workforce has not improved in the last decade. There are now about 143,000 open construction jobs today across the nation (Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2018).  Plus, not enough new workers are entering the industry to replace those who are retiring today, which is quickly making matters worse.

Why has this happened? 

We are in a generation where students are getting less exposure to career opportunities in construction.  With fewer family members involved in construction over the past decade, interest in construction jobs declined.  There was also a decades-old shift in most high schools to remove construction-oriented classes like “Wood Shop” in order to support newer technology courses and trends.

As the construction industry grows in the months and years ahead, we need to promote a positive view of the industry.

We need to encourage student training and education in construction, and we need to publicize the career opportunities which are available in the construction industry. Historically, there has never been an apprenticeship program for technicians in Ohio.


Think BIG

In 1996 the Owens Community College Service Technician Scholarship and Internship Program began, which has evolved into the Caterpillar Think BIG Program. As of April 13th, 174 students have been sponsored by Ohio CAT, and 123 jobs have been offered to the program’s graduates.  This summer, 18 new candidates will enter the program.  But this is not enough!

Recently a movement called “I Build America,” formed as many businesses, schools, and organizations began to recognize the need to better educate individuals on opportunities available in the construction industry. “I Build America—Ohio” is being introduced as the common brand and website for workforce development within Ohio’s construction industry.

The message is that jobs in construction and the skilled trades offer above average pay, good benefits, and career paths with unlimited opportunity.

It’s up to all of us to help spread the word–construction and related industries like ours offer above average pay, good benefits and unlimited career opportunities.

You can and should join the movement as well to generate pride in and respect for the construction industry and to attract people, young and old, into the construction industry with its rewarding and valuable career opportunities.

What can you do?

  • Play one of the “I Build America” videos for your friends and family.
  • Follow, Like and Share “I Build America” social media content.
  • And/or direct students to the “I Build America—Ohio” website for more information.
  • Complete the form on the right if you would like more information about Think BIG, careers at Ohio CAT, and I Build America – Ohio.