Construction Expo hopes to encourage the next generation | Southern Idaho Education

TWIN FALLS — Standing in a newly completed home on Pheasant Road in Twin Falls, builder Jon Zernickow told six high school kids in south-central Idaho he would give them all jobs.

The owner of Zernickow Family Investments has seen fewer students from younger generations seeking trade jobs. The average age of a construction worker is 41, according to statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor.

“It’s so necessary,” Zernickow said. “If someone wants an easy job, that’s not construction, but if he wants to be proud of what he does, work with his hands and earn a good living, that’s where he wants to be.”

To help inspire the next generation of construction workers, he and his son attended the fourth annual Magic Valley Construction Expo on Thursday and Friday.

Open to high school students and older, participants build sheds which are then auctioned off by local schools as a fundraiser. Builders and contractors are invited to come and recruit potential employees and offer advice.

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More than 80 students from across the Magic Valley participated this year, said Annie Peterson, work-base learning coordinator for Twin Falls High School.

New this year, students in Building Construction Level III, a class offered by the Twin Falls School District, were able to leave the exhibit and visit Twin Falls Senior Building Inspector Zernickow and Kortnie Kent.

Collin Rasmussen, a senior from Twin Falls High School, said that while he wanted to get into farming, the skills he learned in class and at the show were vital.

“You’re going to be living in a house, hopefully, so you’re going to learn more about your house and how you can fix it,” Rasmussen said.

Tony Tapia, a senior from Magic Valley High School, has participated in the exhibition for the past three years. This year he helped teach younger students and provided advice such as how to cut different angles for siding.

“My favorite part of the day is interacting with the students because I was in their shoes,” Tapia said. “And now I feel like I can teach them and I can make an impact.”

At last year’s Expo, Laub’s Construction found Tapia and recruited him for summer and after-school work.

“After finishing my first house, I saw it finished after six months, and seeing all the work we had done on this house and especially that it was my first, that’s what made me really pushed it forward and made me stay and come back for this show of the year,” he said.

Construction jobs require critical thinking skills and a willingness to work under adverse conditions, he said.

“It’s not the easiest but I’m having fun doing it and I think it’s the best.”

The expo was organized by Southern Idaho Economic Development, the Magic Valley Builders Association, the Twin Falls School District, and the College of Southern Idaho Workforce Development.

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