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Need for construction workers continues to grow in Oklahoma

Need for construction workers continues to grow in Oklahoma

Andrew Mai is a field engineer with Helsel-Phelps Construction Company.

There is a skills gap in the construction industry, and that gap shows signs of getting wider. That’s why Oklahoma CareerTech and AGC of Oklahoma have joined forces with the National Center for Construction Education and Research’s Build Your Future initiative to show young people and displaced workers the opportunities available in construction. This is the 12th year NCCER has honored careers in construction, and the fourth year it has celebrated Careers in Construction Month.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed a proclamation declaring that October is Careers in Construction Month in Oklahoma, giving that state the distinction of being the first in the country this year to have an official gubernatorial declaration. In anticipation of the month-long event, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education is highlighting its training programs and opportunities in construction.

Through 2022, the need for workers in all areas of construction is expected to grow: carpenters by 24 percent, bricklayers and masons by 36 percent, electricians by 20 percent, plumbers and pipefitters by 21 percent and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers by 21 percent. In addition, forecasters predict that Oklahoma will need almost 3,000 more construction laborers by 2022.

Field engineer Andrew Mai has already joined the construction trades workforce, and he says he is doing what he always wanted to do. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Construction Technology last spring, Mai landed a job with Helsel-Phelps Construction Company. He’s currently working on the Engineering Education and Research center at University of Texas Austin, making more than $50,000 plus benefits.  Not a bad gig for a young man straight out of school.

 “I also have opportunities for advancement,” Mai said, “and the sky is the limit.”

Before enrolling at Oklahoma State, Mai completed a residential and commercial carpentry program at Pioneer Technology Center. He says the CareerTech training gave him a leg up in the field. Mai is just one of many CareerTech success stories. In fiscal year 2014, 2,260 students graduated from CareerTech construction-related programs, CareerTech granted 670 construction-related certifications, and 664 students found construction-related employment.

Overall growth in the national economy and population is expected to increase demand for new buildings, roads, and other structures will create new job openings for construction and extraction occupations. Oklahoma CareerTech offers training in carpentry, masonry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, heavy equipment operation, cabinetmaking and computer-aided design and drafting at technology centers and skills centers and construction-related certifications in 13 areas.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 58 campuses, 390 comprehensive school districts, 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 28 Adult Basic Education service providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

For more information about the Oklahoma CareerTech System, visit


Connie Romans
Communications and marketing coordinator

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