The National Center for Construction Education and Research recently reported that the U.S. currently lacks around 430,000 construction workers nationwide.
A program in Kansas is seeking to help meet the needs of the workforce in all career fields by investing in middle school and high school students.
Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.
JAG-K provides opportunities for students to explore careers through employer engagement relationships. Those experiences may include field trips, job shadows, internships and summer or part-time employment.
While not specifically designed to prepare students for trade jobs, JAG-K is helping to equip students with skills, experiences and a quality work ethic. JAG-K students frequently engage in community service projects that involve minor construction work.
“Career exploration is an important part of the evidence-based JAG model,” said Chuck Knapp, President and CEO of JAG-K. “Many of our students are initially unaware of the many opportunities provided by obtaining skills in high demand careers like the trades. Our aim is to make sure students know about these jobs and prepare them to be successful during the training process and as employees.”
Kansas’ 104 JAG-K programs, which serve more than 5,500 students in 49 school districts across the state, reports a graduation rate of 97 percent over the past five years. Many of JAG-K’s students attend college, overcoming barriers that might otherwise have kept them from succeeding in school.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Royals Charities, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.