Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program

SIBA Immerses High Schoolers into Hands-On Trades Experiences


       An increasing number of high school students are exploring the work and benefits of paid apprenticeships in the construction industry’s skilled crafts or trades, according to Southern Illinois Builders Association CEO Donna Richter.

       The builders group has been sponsoring a fall construction careers expo for more than 20 years, and this year’s student enrollment from the eight-county Southwestern Illinois Metro East area jumped 23 percent from last year, Richter said.

       The construction careers expo provides high school students a range of interactive hands-on experiences with experienced journeymen. This year the journeymen included boilermakers; bricklayers; carpenters; cement masons and plasterers; electricians; iron workers; painters; plumbers, pipefitters and gasfitters; operating engineers; sheet metal workers and steamfitters.

       “Students are telling us they are attracted to the skilled crafts because of good pay and paid training,” Richter said. Other reasons include the constant challenge of developing new construction skills and the exciting technology being developed to enhance construction such as GPS-guided equipment, drone scanning, three-dimensional modeling and planning and also robotics.

       “The area’s construction industry needs hundreds of trained workers so the students can be comfortable in knowing that there will be full-time work after their paid apprenticeships,” she added.

       The construction careers expo is produced in conjunction with the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program and with the cooperation of local school district and county education offices.  

        Detailed information about specific construction related apprenticeships is at