Construction trades program will address workforce needs

PCC Southwest is launching a new construction trades program to promote interest in construction careers and offer nationally credentialed pathways that allow students greater flexibility depending on their career stage.

The construction industry faces a workforce shortage of 650,000 in 2022, according to a recent model from Associated Builders and Contractors, a national trade association. With its new program, PCC hopes to alleviate the shortage in Southwestern Colorado and attract students of all backgrounds and skill levels.

“There’s a huge training deficit. Construction training is available at our local high schools but for adults wanting to enter the workforce, their only option right now is to apprentice or work for a lower wage in exchange for an opportunity to learn a skill,” said Perry Pepper, the academic services director at PCC Southwest. “If you have the education, this is not only a higher-wage job for entry-level positions. The earning potential and opportunities for advancement are significant.”  

Pepper estimated that carpenters and electricians could earn at least $49,000 per year in the region. Project managers can make between $92,000 and $100,000.

What sets PCC’s program apart from others is the utilization of the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) core pathway, which comes with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration credential. Not only is NCCER’s program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, it provides students with job opportunities anywhere in the country, whether they’re pursuing work within a residential, commercial or industrial setting. PCC students also will have opportunities to pursue job site leadership or superintendent roles and specialize in different segments such as mechanical work or solar system installation.

PCC will offer NCCER instructor certification for high school teachers so high school graduates can enter the workforce with a nationally recognized certificate or continue their education at PCC. Adult learners will be able to enter the program regardless of skill level. There will be different launching and exit points depending on a student’s current skill level and how far they wish to go in their career.

“This pathway can get your foot in the door and expose you to the many possibilities within construction trades,” Pepper said. “In today’s world, it’s not just college credits that you need; students need industry credentials that are portable. There’s lots of value for any individual in this program.”

The NCCER core program will begin this fall. For more information, contact Pepper at or 970-564-6205.