EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — Amid nationwide concerns about a shortage of skilled labor, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and dozens of companies in the construction industry Wednesday touted the benefits of working in the trades.
They hosted more than 500 high school seniors from 26 different schools at the RIDOT Construction Career Days in East Greenwich, during which students got the chance to get some hands-on experience including operating backhoes and excavators, as well as with welding and plumbing.
Representatives from colleges, training academies, and apprenticeship programs were also on hand.
“A career in the construction industry offers high school students an exciting and rewarding alternative to college, especially for those students who are hands-on learners,” said Michael F. Sabitoni, president of the RI Building & Construction Trades Council. “Upon graduation, students can enter a host of apprenticeship programs and can look forward to family-sustaining wages and benefits for a lifelong career in any of the trades, without the enormity of college debt.”
RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said there is no shortage of construction jobs in the state.
“The Governor’s RhodeWorks program is putting a record number of projects on the street to rebuild our roads and bridges,” Alviti said. “With that comes the opportunity for thousands of jobs. We want students to learn about the many good paying careers open to them in construction.”
Wednesday’s event was for seniors graduating in May. RIDOT and the Rhode Island Public Works Association are planning a larger, two-day event next spring that will accommodate more than 1,000 high school students.