The U.S. Department of Labor recently hosted a roundtable discussion that focused on ways to attract more young workers to construction apprenticeship programs.

“There are tremendous opportunities across America for people to get into apprenticeship programs that provide pathways to the middle class and provide businesses with the opportunity to invest in their critical workforce needs,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said at the meeting.

Perez went on to discuss the need to impress upon more people that quality apprenticeship programs should have the same standing as a four-year university education.

Many of the participants at the roundtable noted that using apprenticeships to build a pipeline of skilled workers will be crucial to address forecasts a labor shortage across the country for the construction industry.

Another area for “re-education” discussed during the event involved getting information to educators that reinforces the value of apprenticeship programs. Major selling points including the fact apprentices receive guaranteed wages and benefits needs to be better marketed so it is included in every discussion between school officials and students.

Participants also suggested making apprentice employment language a requirement in future government project bid language.