Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) member Shapiro & Duncan, Inc.’s Paul Tse today explained to Congress how a high school degree and technical education (CTE) program launched his successful career in construction. Tse, a project manager for the Rockville, Md.-based contractor, testified at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce titled “Helping Students Succeed by Strengthening the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.”

“It is time that students, guidance counselors, educators, parents and the American public recognize the fulfilling and lucrative careers that can be achieved in construction and skilled trades,” Tse said in written testimony submitted to the committee. “We must all work to remove any stigma that exists that choosing a CTE program over a traditional four year college is somehow ‘settling.’  Those four years I spent at Montgomery College and out in the field, I worked just as hard as students at colleges and universities.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry will face a shortage of 1.6 million skilled workers by 2022. Already more than four in five ABC members say they are facing a shortage of appropriately skilled labor, despite an annual workforce development investment of $1.1 billion.

“Instead of pushing kids down the ‘traditional’ path of college-prep, we should be pushing kids to explore learning opportunities that prepare them for college and a career,” Tse said. “Whether the destination is an engineering degree from the University of Maryland or a journeyman’s license from the state of Maryland, high schoolers should have equal opportunities to prepare for either pathway.”

ABC is working to address the worker shortage through more than 800 apprenticeship, craft training and safety training programs set up by its chapters around the country. The association has signed on to an industry pledge to hire 100,000 veterans—who already comprise 23 percent of the trade/craft workers employed by ABC members—in the construction workforce over the next five years. Additionally, ABC promotes life-long learning and achievement in the construction industry at every level through numerous competitions, awards programs and student outreach initiatives.

Mr. Tse’s full testimony is available on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s website, a video of this morning’s hearing is also available below.