It’s no secret many companies across the country are struggling to fill open positions. Attracting quality talent and the next generation of professionals is a major hot topic in numerous industries. At the beginning of the year, John Harper of Construction Partners, Inc., was named National Asphalt Pavement Association’s (NAPA) 2019 Chairman, and he announced one of his priorities during his term was to focus on workforce development. “Our challenge is to make young people aware of the good lives they can build for themselves by building America’s infrastructure,” he commented. “NAPA is launching an ambitious effort to raise awareness of the opportunities asphalt offers, and we are committed to addressing today’s workforce challenges while also positioning the industry for the future.”
ATS (NAPA member) has embraced opportunities to drive these efforts as its team members share NAPA’s goal to help bring awareness to the asphalt industry, namely opportunities for rewarding careers. ATS’ most recent effort took place at the beginning of November when it hosted a tour for forty-five local high school students from Ridgeview High in collaboration with Cemex and Duval Asphalt. During the tour the three companies highlighted day to day operations at their facilities and shared career opportunities at each location. While many students are taught a four-year college program is a traditional path, there are many other options for students who perhaps do not wish to pursue a traditional four year degree. “The informative tour and stimulating commentary have allowed us to better define career opportunities that exist in the industry,” said Tamara Mansel-Tucker, Ridgeview High School College and Career Coach. “The visit helped our students understand that through education and hard work, opportunities for career success are available to them. The presentation was very impactful for the next generation of craft professionals.”
ATS is also a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors Association (ABC). ABC priorities workforce development on its list of initiatives, and ATS Pavement Materials Engineer Tanya Nash sits on ABC First Coast Chapter’s Workforce Development Committee. This is where she learned of Ridgeview High’s interest in exposing its students to companies in the construction and trades fields. ABC’s First Coast Chapter President/CEO, Karin Tucker Hoffman, and Membership and Events Coordinator, Cassie Donlen, joined the students during the tour of the ATS labs. Both were happy to see the workforce development efforts by ATS. “What a phenomenal program…put together for the students!” commented Tucker Hoffman. “This kind of collaboration among schools and employers is exactly how we can open students’ eyes to career opportunities that may not otherwise be on their radars.” Donlen mentioned how impressed she was with the tour. “The kids really seemed to be enjoying themselves and exhibited true interest in the process,” she said.
While ATS has hosted university students in its labs before, this was the first time it welcomed high school students to tour; and won’t be the last. “The asphalt industry is a specialty field just like many others out there,” said Rhonda Hale, ATS Lab Manager. “If we don’t expose our young people to the asphalt industry…and impress upon them the need for qualified workers in the field, we will never expand the workforce needed to keep the industry going and growing. We need to help them understand that a quality vocational education or trade is just as good as a college degree. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ world. We need different vocations to fill different needs.”