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By Guy Nahmiach

The Wheat Ridge High School Career Explorer program allows students that are likely to drop out to learn a trade in the construction industry. With the condition that they continue their studies and graduate on time, these students are learning the various sides of the construction field, including drywall and framing. More importantly, they are also learning how to find jobs and write resumes that are applicable to the world of construction.

The amazing part of this program is that they are getting placed in internships that actually pay them while they learn.

In spending the morning with them at the Colorado Homebuilding Academy, I learned that this program is specific for students that have identified construction as their focus for a career.

With an average pay of $24 per hour, Colorado has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. With 100,000 people per year expected to move to our state for the next 10 years, the construction industry is struggling to build a workforce to accommodate the need.

These students were elbows and faces forward. There was no chatting, texting or other distractions. There was maximum concentration in the classrooms where they learned new skills that included English and math as they relate to the field of construction. They learned measuring and writing building instructions. On the mock field, they learned how to safely and accurately operate manual and electrical tools. This team was pretty excited about securing their future: an actual career that would not only help them support a family in the future, but finish their high school degree and be proud members of our community.

While this crew was being lead by their superstar teacher Jane Johnson, there are plenty of teachers and staff involved in this program at Wheat Ridge High, including the other two Career Explore programs in the worlds of healthcare and hotel services.

If this is something you think might be of interest to a high school student you know, don’t hesitate to have them call Wheat Ridge High School Principal Josh Cooley at 303-982-7695.