Creating and Connecting the Construction Workforce

NCCER’s CareerStarter platform wants to be the place where employers, educators, and job seekers all come together.
CareerStarter came about to fill that gap in the industry, matching job seekers with job creators.

CareerStarter connects job seekers with entry-level positions, but it’s much more than a job board. Photo courtesy NCCER

Young job seekers looking to break into the construction industry might not know where to begin. They might hear about a nearby training program but might not know of all the many training and educational programs, apprenticeships, and entry-level jobs available to them. They might remain unaware of the wide spectrum of possible construction careers.

NCCER, a provider of construction training and credentials, wants its free online platform CareerStarter to be the one place where all the relevant players—job seekers, employers, and educational and training programs—can come together. The ultimate goal: more people with lasting, satisfying careers in residential and commercial construction. 

“Like a lot of people in the industry, I know so many incredible workforce-development committees, associations, nonprofits, technical colleges, and construction companies doing absolutely amazing things to try to get people into the industry,” says Tara Hagood, program manager, CareerStarter. “But the reality is no one has enough people, money, or time in the day to be everything to everyone or to solve the massive issues facing our workforce all on their own.” Those issues include not only the well-reported labor shortage but also the stigma often associated with construction jobs.

FILLING THE TALENT GAP WITH CAREERSTARTER

“CareerStarter came about to fill that gap in the industry,” Hagood says. CareerStarter connects job seekers with entry-level positions, but it’s much more than a job board, she explains. “It’s a way to connect everybody in the workforce together and give individuals a clear pathway to get started on their construction careers. It’s a one-stop shop for educators, employers, and individuals to be connected like never before.”

On the CareerStarter platform, job seekers—which might include recent high school grads, training program graduates, or older workers looking to make a career change—customize their own profile pages. Individuals indicate their location, experience, and the career they want. 

In addition, CareerStarter provides job seekers with a career quiz that asks about their personalities and interests—such as whether they enjoy working with computer technology, in which case they might consider engineering or drafting, or whether they love working outdoors and feel safe handling power tools, which could prompt them to consider carpentry.


CareerStarter's career quiz for construction workers
Prospective construction workers are able to find the right fit for them with CareerStarter's online quiz. Photo courtesy NCCER

Employers likewise customize their own pages. They upload their company logos and images, describe their organizations and cultures, and showcase their various benefits, perks, and career-advancement opportunities. “That’s the employer’s opportunity to sell themselves to job seekers,” says Hagood, adding that NCCER does some vetting just to weed out staffing companies.

CareerStarter then automatically matches employers with job seekers. The companies’ dashboards list not only applicants but anyone in the database who’s looking for work and fits the job description. The platform also informs job seekers about the available entry-level openings that match their interests and experience, as well as training and educational programs, including apprenticeships and community and technical colleges.

“So individuals can go from construction curiosity to construction career,” Hagood says.

For their part, educators can promote their programs on CareerStarter to help drive enrollment and place their graduates. (CareerStarter is not exclusive to people using NCCER’s curriculum or any other curriculum, Hagood points out.) Educators also can take advantage of CareerStarter’s tracking tool, so they can see where their graduates end up working.

In all, CareerStarter covers 36 trades: from office-based positions such as architect and civil engineer to trades such as electrician and roofer.


NCCER's CareerStarter job seeker dashboard for construction workers.
CareerStarter's job seeker dashboard shows potential job matches based on quiz results. Photo courtesy NCCER

CareerStarter emerged from NCCER’s Build Your Future Initiative, which, for the past decade, has worked to expose young people to construction career pathways. To develop the CareerStarter platform, NCCER partnered with software company Futures, Inc., which has successfully deployed a similar platform for individuals leaving the military and seeking civilian careers.

After testing to improve the user experience, CareerStarter launched in North Carolina and Texas in February. In those states, CareerStarter is already used by dozens of employers and educators—as well as about 500 job seekers, though Hagood expects that number to climb into the thousands soon. By this fall, after conducting a survey of the initial rollout, NCCER plans to expand the platform to five more states—Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and Ohio—followed by a nationwide release.

Photo by NCCER CareerStarter of skilled worker

About The Author

Novid Parsi, Utopia Freelance Writer

Novid Parsi

Novid Parsi is a St. Louis-based freelance writer who covers a wide range of industries, including construction and technology.