(3-min read)

When most consider school supplies needed for high school classes, tape measures and hardhats don’t usually factor into the equation. This is changing for one Oklahoma high school, thanks to state and commercial efforts. To combat an ever-widening skills gap in the construction workforce, Charles Page High School in Sand Springs, OK has launched its first-ever Fundamentals of Construction program. 

Sponsored by Tulsa Technology Center with help from surrounding construction companies, including Cowen Construction, the Fundamentals of Construction will help address the skills gap that is present in the construction industry. Programs serving similar goals have already started or are in stages of development—including a Foundations of Manufacturing as well as an Interior Design class. 

“Through my time in the industry, I served on the boards, I’ve witnessed the growing stress these firms that cannot find qualified help (have),” Tulsa Tech Board member and Cowen Construction Construction Manager Danny Hancock told the Sand Springs Leader. “And with the expected 700,000 additional workforce needed by 2026, everyone should be concerned about how it’s going to affect cost and availability of construction services and consumer needs for construction, remodels, and repairs. This program here will not have a shortage of industry members wanting to help and have the program be successful.”

Sand Springs Superintendent Sherry Durkee has high hopes that the program will highlight the construction industry as a rewarding career of the students hoping to enter the workforce out of high school. 

“(It’s part of) an effort to connect and bridge what we’re doing in K-12 education in Sand Springs specifically to meet a need in the job market,” Durkee told the Sand Springs Leader. “We know our job, our function is to prepare kids for citizenship…we embrace that.”

To offer support and job site experience, local construction firms such as Cowen Construction as well as LD Kerns, Platinum Mechanical, Reiss Painting, and Colburn Electric have pledged their support to the program. 

So far, the Fundamentals of Construction course currently has around 60 students. Though taking place at Charles Page High, the program also allows for participation from high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from the surrounding Berryhill and Central high schools. The staff of Cowen Construction are very excited about supporting this great program for many years to come.