Hosting a safe and engaging workforce development event during uncertain times can be difficult but the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati overcame the odds. More than two dozen students gained first-hand exposure to the home building industry during the Careers in Construction days at the 2020 HOMEARAMA event in October hosted by the HBA.
The HBA of Greater Cincinnati was in the process of developing a robust program for students during their annual home show when their plans were upended by the pandemic, said Melanie Meyer, member relations coordinator. Challenges started stacking up. How do you invite middle and high school students when you can't go to schools to talk to them about the event? How do they attend when school buses won't shuttle them to the location? Will anyone show up?
Under the direction of Brad Olinger, HBA of Greater Cincinnati President, the HBA planning and outreach committee forged ahead, motivated by their commitment to raise awareness of careers in construction in their community. The outreach strategy shifted to heavy promotion of the event on social media and word of mouth marketing. "It was a boots on the ground effort," said Meyer, recalling that members were encouraged to tell everyone about the event, even their neighbors. Flyers promoting the career days were plastered all over the community.
The monumental outreach effort by members paid off. A group of highly motivated students and some adults attended the career days. Each attendee was given a backpack full of swag after checking in, which included business cards from members and job descriptions of positions currently open.
Attendees, masked and socially distant, walked through completed homes learning about the building process directly from builders, subs and suppliers. Other professionals in the industry, from title company representatives to designers, also addressed the participants. "We wanted to show the students there are more opportunities than hammering nails in our industry," said Meyer.
Students were not the only captive audience at the event. An HBA member who is also a financial planner spoke directly with parents about the cost of a college education compared to the cost of trade school and outlined the earning potential during and after training. Even the most skeptic parents became more open to the idea of their child entering the trades after the presentation.
While smaller in scale, overall, the careers in construction days proved to be a worthwhile event. Fueled by this momentum, the HBA is planning other outreach activities in the coming year. The HBA of Greater Cincinnati is focused on becoming the go-to resource for the home building industry for their members and community.