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Graduates Seeking Jobs During COVID-19 Gives Construction Industry Opportunity to Shine

May 21st, 2020 | by NEWCA

With high school and college graduation season upon us, there have been numerous news stories lamenting what the uncertainty the COVID-19 situation brings to these graduates—particularly those leaving college.

As one commentary in the Kenosha News recounts: “I know several families whose kids are just starting to embark on this first step in their adult lives — and they’re all feeling very uncertain and unnerved. And rightfully so.

“On April 29, CNBC reported that new college graduates are entering the worst job market in over a decade, with lower starting salaries and increased competition for openings. And nearly a quarter of employers are considering revoking offers that have already been made to the class of 2020.”

Then there is this from a recent Associated Press article on the same topic, which quotes Merced, California assistant superintendent Constantino Aguilar: “The future looks very, very grim. Where do these students go? A lot of doors have been closed. We’re trying to plan for our students’ futures and there is nothing out there for them.”

While these stories paint a bleak picture of the job market, it is an incomplete picture. The construction trades continue to be robust, and this misperception of available jobs provides a golden opportunity for our industry to shine.

Consider that the national average, non-commuting tuition for public universities is $27,120 per year. Private university tuition averages $41,426 per year. So obtaining a four-year degree will run between $108,000 to $165,000 on average.

Compare that to the average entry level construction wages, which range from $16 to $20 per hour for high school students with no experience. That translates into an annual income of $33,280 to $41,600 not including overtime, bonuses and benefits.

With four years of experience under their belt, those same entry level employees could easily see their wages rise to a base salary between $47,840 to $72,800.

The story of working in construction is a story of opportunity. It is the story that the American dream was built upon; the chance to plot your own course, work hard and be rewarded, and ultimately to move up the ladder of success.

The story for graduates of 2020—be they high school or college—doesn’t have to be filled with gloom and doom. The construction trades can be the light that guides them toward prosperity.

And that prosperity is not limited to just recent graduates. Many industry workers—particularly within hospitality, food service and retail—have been hit hard during this crisis. The construction trades just might be the right answer for their future financial stability as well.

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