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Mentoring in Construction Helps Fill Gaps

Nicholas Gallucci, Project Manager at TRITEC Real Estate Company and Chaminade High School student, Owen Brennan
Owen Brennan, Chaminade High School sophomore and Nicholas Gallucci, Project Manager

Owen Brennan is a sophomore at Chaminade High School and is already out on the job site learning from professionals. A member of Chaminade’s business and woodworking clubs, Owen aspires to own a construction business one day. “Since I was a kid, I have always built things. I like figuring out how things are put together and creating them myself.” The student lives around the block from Nicholas Gallucci, Project Manager on the Ronkonkoma project, who first heard about Owen’s interest in construction from Owen’s parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nicholas took on the role of a mentor, introducing Owen to the industry through miscellaneous projects at his home office.

Nicholas describes his mentorship with Owen as a full circle, “My parents bought their house from a dentist when I was five years old, and we had to convert it from a dentist’s office back to a house. I was my dad’s helper during the renovation and learned many different aspects of building. I observed how plumbers serviced our boiler, watched the electrician put subpanels in, and learned from my neighbor who helped us build our garage.” As a result of this experience, Nicholas developed an interest in construction, which led him to his position today.

Nicholas hopes to inspire other young people to join the construction industry, as he was inspired as a child. He says, “The industry is experiencing an all-time low in all trades. There’s such a void of young people coming into the trades. We need to encourage our youth to break through the ‘paper ceiling,’ the push for college is wonderful, but there are options for students who thrive in other environments and can use their skills differently, not to mention how well the trades pay. We can start exposing students to and hopefully change the tides of this massive decline of skilled workers in the construction industry through mentorship programs. Whether it’s my job or what the tradesmen do, there needs to be more awareness of this career path.”

According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction job openings recently jumped to a record-high of 481,000 unfilled positions in April. This is the highest measure in the history of the data series, which goes back to 2000. In particular, there is a decline in the number of young people entering the construction industry. This is due to several reasons, such as negative stigma in the industry, misconceptions about flexibility and pay, or unawareness of the available job opportunities. With mentors in the industry, it’s possible to help fill the gaps in both knowledge and employment.

We look forward to seeing more young people like Owen out on the construction site. To learn about apprenticeship opportunities, the New York State Department of Labor is an excellent resource. For advanced degree programs in construction, visit Farmingdale State College or New York Institute of Technology.