ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A two-day event in Bridgeton hopes to address a looming labor shortage in the construction industry.

Exposing the younger demographic to opportunities in the construction industry is the driving force behind ConstructReach and its founder and CEO Paul Robinson.

“There’s a labor shortage within the industry of construction, and there’s been a longstanding area of opportunity to not only get it younger, but also more diverse as well,” Robinson said.

The nationwide construction workforce development initiative called “I Built This” set up shop in Bridgeton this week. It’s partnering with local companies, unions, and school districts to introduce and attract younger, diverse new talent to the industry.

“Bringing the community behind the proverbial construction fence, if you will, allows it to be more community oriented, but also an introduction to career pathways they didn’t know existed,” Robinson said.

McCluer High School junior Rayshon Sharp is one of the students taking part in the event.

“I’m going to have fun, experience some new things, try out some new stuff exploring the careers of architecture and construction,” Sharp said.

According to ConstructReach, half of the current construction workforce is over the age of 46. Robinson said cultivating the next batch of construction workers and providing them a pathway to success is what the program is about.

“Based on what direction you want to go, whether it’s the professional side or the skilled trade side, you can go to college, or you may not go to college. We let them know the industry at large can be a preeminent choice,” he said.

A choice, students like Sharp are excited to have.

“Being able to build something of your own or with a crew or something, he said.