Hawaii's Construction Academy Addresses Critical Labor Shortfall
The Construction Academy is a partnership between the Hawai`i Department of Education and the state’s community college system. It is a pre-apprenticeship program that targets high school juniors and seniors in specific courses. High school students enrolled in Building and Construction, Electricity, and Drafting Technology are considered Construction Academy participants.
In 2006 Hawai`i was experiencing an estimated $10,000,000,000 boom in new construction that created a critical shortage of qualified workers in the trades. Projections indicate that, over the next several years, Hawai`i will need between 10,000 and 26,000 more construction workers to meet industry demand.
To meet the critical labor shortfall, Hawai`i implemented a multi-pronged strategy. The first part of the strategy was to develop awareness and interest in the construction industry while providing a foundational education for students. This awareness is being established through a pre-apprenticeship program called the Construction Academy. The second part of the strategy involves ensuring that a larger base of candidates can enter postsecondary professional construction training programs. This portion of the strategy is being accomplished through expansion of the state’s apprenticeship training programs.
The Construction Academy’s mission is to help high school students gain the technical, academic, and employability skills necessary to pursue careers in the construction industry. To fulfill that mission, the community college system, in partnership with the Hawai`i Department of Education, contracted with CORD, a nonprofit organization, to develop an integrated curriculum that addresses the student learner outcomes for specific community college courses.
Between the 2007 and 2009 academic years, high school participation grew from 27 to 33 high schools statewide. Student participation increased from 975 to 2220 in three years. Honolulu Community College conducted a followup survey of high school senior participants who graduated in June 2007. Of the students contacted, 30 (36 percent) reported that they were involved in construction-related activities through apprenticeships, education, or direct employment. The Construction Academy is continuing to gather information from graduates to assist in its program improvement efforts.