Weekly roundup: High school construction academy meets workforce needs, Teachers of the Year celebrated, and more

Students trained through Katella High School’s Building Industry Technology Academy, or BITA, are finding work in the construction sector straight out of high school, helping fill a shortage of skilled workers.

The program has taught scores of students how to hammer, saw, build walls and install wiring and plumbing. The Orange County Register this week profiled the program, especially how it’s giving students career options that don’t require college or pricey college loans.

BITA is now a statewide program, with classes in 29 California high schools, according to the Register.

Title for "In the news"“Our goal is to get the kids … interested in the construction industry,” Jill Herman, director of the BITA program, run by the California Homebuilding Foundation, told the Register. “And hopefully get into the construction industry.”

Homebuilders see the labor shortage as their top problem this year, according to a recent National Association of Home Builders survey.

Adding to the industry’s problems has been a shift in many of the nation’s high schools toward college preparation and away from career technical education, according to the Register. Because of cultural preferences for white-collar jobs, parents and educators push students to college. Many see construction work as low-paying and subject to booms and busts that cause poor job security.

But the BITA program is helping change that perception among students and parents.

Rather than graduate from college with $60,000 to $120,000 in debt, why not work construction after high school to pay for college down the road, several industry leaders said at the NAHB’s annual conference in Las Vegas.

Here are some other education articles for the region for the week ending May 3.

  • A cook from the Westminster School District’s central kitchen has been named one of six California Classified School Employees of the Year.
  • Teachers are continuing to fall behind other college graduates in the wages they earn, contributing to the difficulties many school districts in California and the nation face in filling positions in key subject areas, according to a new analysis.
  • Students from Costa Mesa Middle and High School in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District practiced kindness with one another during the second annual Let’s Be Kind Day.

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