An ABC chapter president recently testified before a U.S. House committee on the importance of vocational education to the construction industry.

Alvin Bargas, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ Pelican Chapter in Louisiana, told members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education the state will soon confront a shortage of qualified workers.

“Louisiana’s construction industry now faces a workforce challenge,” Bargas said. “Project announcements in excess of $60 billion in new construction, plus the expansion of existing facilities are driving the need for skilled workers. Retirements, career changes, etc., will drive demand for an additional 51,300 workers.

“Even with an exploding demand for a skilled construction workforce, public high schools continue to focus on the four-year college prep curriculum,” Bargas added. “While this pathway is important, students should be offered opportunities to learn skills that prepare them for high paying, in-demand careers that do not require a bachelor’s degree.”

The Sept. 20 hearing was called "Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs: A Discussion on Career and Technical Education and Training Programs.”