A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

K4C Construction Days draws about 3,000 students from across Kentucky to Shelby County Fairgrounds

By Jacob Perkins 
Kentucky Teacher

If you happened to stumble into the Shelby County Fairgrounds on Sept. 24-25, you may have thought the area was getting a new look.

Colton Kessinger (left), from Spencer County High School, operates a driving simulator from CAT. CAT was one of the many exhibitors at the 2019 K4C Construction Career Days event in Shelby County. The exhibitors spoke with students about their plans after high school and allowed them to get some hands-on experience.
Photos by Jacob Perkins, Sept. 25, 2019

Construction equipment and individuals with hardhats were spread across the grounds, but this was no work site. This was the 15th annual K4C Construction Days. The event is sponsored by K4C – which is made up of construction industry employers and construction associations – in an effort to inform students about the career opportunities available in the construction industry.

Mary Taylor, industry training specialist with the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transition, aided in setting up the 2019 event.

“It is encouraging to see industry put so much time and effort into working with this age group,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of well-paying careers in the skilled trades that students don’t get exposed to in the classroom. This event has the opportunity to make an impact not only in the lives of students, but also in an industry that very much needs them. It’s a hands-on way for them to connect.”

The event hosted about 3,000 career and technical school students from throughout the Commonwealth over the span of the two days.

One of those students, Caleb Heitzman from Bullitt East High School (Bullitt County), was in attendance for the second time.

He said he always knew he wanted to become an electrician when he graduates from high school, but it wasn’t until he came to the K4C Construction Days that he knew the specific route he wanted to take.

“The first time I came down here I knew I really want to be an electrician and just do commercial and residential work,” Heitzman said. “Then I saw the lineman and I fell in love with it. It seemed like something that I’d like to do. Options are definitely open here. If you come down here, you should come with an open mind and make sure you check everything out.”

Ricky Cox from the Department of Juvenile Justice assists students with their hard hats. Each student that attended the event received his or her own hard hat.

Exhibitors were set up far and wide for the students. The stations ranged from electrical work, water work, brick laying, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and different colleges that were all there to talk to students about their next steps upon graduation.

Bobby Cunningham, a vendor from Masonry Additions, demonstrated how to lay brick and even gave students the opportunity to try it themselves. He also spoke to students about their goals following high school because he knows it’s important to recruit potential employees as early as possible.

“We want to show the students other options and show what other trades are out there,” Cunningham said. “(The students) see (these trades) all the time, but they don’t really think of it as an option. Usually when you’re at that age it’s about what jobs you can get. Whether it’s a restaurant or working at a ballpark, it’s something simple. They don’t realize that these are options for them and they don’t have to go to college if that’s not for them.”

Kentucky Teacher is a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education

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