Exploring Careers in Construction

<p>YouthBuild</p>

YouthBuild

Hammers, nails, and table saws.

That's the music six students have chimed to over the past few weeks -- working to construct a home from the ground up.

Isabel Gonzalez is a Criminal Justice major at Heritage University, and decided to see what was out there outside of her major's workforce.

"It was something new to me, something that I've never done before," said Gonzalez, "I always tell myself, 'try something new at least once,' so I got involved in the youthbuild program."

The YouthBuild program gives students between the ages of 16 and 24, the chance to explore certain career options; in this case, construction.

These students started building the home for Habitat for Humanity in the middle of June.

"This is the first time I actually built and constructed a house, I actually really enjoy it," said Gerardo Martinez, "I see myself getting somewhere in construction."

At the end of the program, the students are awarded pre-apprenticeship certificates, those can be used to apply to apprenticeship programs if they want to continue their education in construction.

The program is the first of its kind in the Lower Valley, and already has 27 students enrolled.

Program organizers say they want to expand it in the area to hopefully open up more job opportunities for the youth, especially in a field with such high demand.

"It helps the students gain those skills, it preps them for either if they're wanting to know if they want to be in the carpentry or electrical plumbing," said case manager Bertha Gonzalez, "It gives them a taste of overall construction."

For Isabel Gonzalez, that may be enough to make her come back for more.

"A teacher of mine once told me that even if you don't go out for a certain type of career, still get the experience so you can have that to fall back on, said Gonzalez, "Knowledge is key."

The YouthBuild program hopes to have the home finished and donated to a family in need by the end of August.