UNLV construction and engineering students talk to industry experts about job outlook, impact amid pandemic in virtual panel

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — While Nevada eases back into business amid the COVID-19 crisis, construction, while an essential business, has not escaped the impact of the pandemic.

Recent graduates and UNLV students interested in the construction industry have to navigate a new career market that is very different from what they expected.

The Nevada State Contractors Board hosted a virtual panel as an opportunity for UNLV students to ask questions, and get advice from experts as the pandemic continues to shape the industry.

Panelists also shared how OSHA, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enforces safe guidelines and ensures proper disinfection and wear of PPEs.

“The biggest change is the way we communicate. Every company in town has mass communications capabilities through text messaging,” Guy Martin of Martin-Harris Construction said. “Believe it or not, construction guys are okay with social distancing, we tend to act that way and behave that way anyways.”

“We’re hoping the next phase of the Convention Center, while it’s currently been put on hold, that it’s released sooner than later. That is going to have a big impact on the construction industry. I think there are a lot of unknowns. What crafts are going to be in high demand and where those demands are going to come from is still a question that needs to be answered,” Bill Stanley with Southern Nevada Building Trades Unions said.

Brian Kalina with Southwest Gas advises recent grads looking for work to pick up the phone and ask questions.

“One thing the younger generation really struggles with is [making] a phone call, they’d much rather text. You get a lot of information just by calling a couple of companies you are interested in. Call their HR department and ask about opportunities,” Kalina said.

One opportunity that helps students break into the industry are apprentice programs. Many of them have now converted to online learning.

The Southern Nevada Building Trades apprentice program is still recruiting, with hundreds of applicants being interviewed in hopes to be part of the 40-member August cohort.

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