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Trade show for students aims to boost interest in skilled worker careers

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

More and more educators, policymakers and politicians are recognizing and trumpeting the idea that not all students are college material. That’s led to an outpouring of support for vocational schools and early training in non-college careers.

For kids who fit that mold, the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter along with Hillsborough County Public Schools, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Amalie Arena are hosting the inaugural Build Tampa Bay trade show and job fair this February 2 at Amalie Arena.

The event will feature more than 50 local employers teaching high school students about career opportunities in the building and construction industries. More than 600 students from across the Bay area are expected to attend.

Participating employers will provide career advice to interested students as well as immediate job opportunities in architecture, engineering, plumbing, masonry, general construction and machine operations.

“The outpouring of support from the local construction industry for the Build Tampa Bay event has been overwhelming, indicating that our next generation of leaders have many employment options available to them at every education level imaginable,” said Steve Cona, president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. “By participating in the event, students will have a unique opportunity to be part of the growth our region is currently experiencing and gain training that will help them in their professional lives.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that skilled worker shortages will exceed 1.5 million by 2022. Worse, most Associated Builder and Contractor member companies are already experiencing worker shortages. That’s despite an annual investment of more than $1 billion in workforce training and apprenticeship programs.

The event is expected to attract students interested in the industry as non-college educated skilled worker, but also offers opportunities, such as engineering, for students who do attend college and obtain a degree.

The trade show is aimed at encouraging young people to enter the industry by showing the value in a lasting career.

The event runs from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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