Today’s graduates are armed with knowledge of the trade, passion to succeed, and a set of technology skills unlike perhaps any generation before. However, while such a wealth of knowledge and desire is critical to succeed in today’s building or contracting company, so too is an awareness and comprehension of the business of construction.

As technology continues to transform the way in which projects are planned, designed, and constructed, it is imperative to keep today’s workforce engaged and enthused about using such tools, as well as help them learn the skills and acumen necessary to make the business of construction successful.

Today we are seeing this start as early as the high-school level. Students at the Academy of Construction and Design at Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., are a good example. These students are nearing the completion of a project under the Academy’s new Build a House – Build a Future construction education program. Throughout this past summer students–under the guidance of academy instructors and professionals on loan from area construction companies played a critical role in helping complete a 2,000-sq.ft. single-family home in D.C.

This is a good example of the important role education plays in helping to keep the future of construction strong and vibrant. This academy in particular enrolls more than 100 students annually, introducing them to different career options in the field.

According to the school it has a 90% graduation rate and is successful at helping to launch students into different opportunities within construction, including trade specialists, as well as into college programs in architecture, construction management, and engineering, among others.

Speaking particularly to the use of technology in the field, an ongoing debate exists between education and industry about how prepared students should be when they enter the field. Some say it is the responsibility of the educational institutes to teach students about such programs as cost estimating, digital takeoff, and project management technology. We have even seen construction-technology providers lend a hand and donate software to construction schools, in effort to have students get their hands on real world software applications they will learn in the field.

On the flipside, those at the educational level argue that it is often difficult to balance curriculum that involves learning technology tools with those dedicated to learning the tried and true business and procedural methods of construction.

In essence, both parties are correct in their level of expectations. The truth is it will take a blend of both education and industry practice in order to better prepare students coming into the field of construction, to ensure they are developing the proper skills related to using technology on the job.

In fact, this topic will be the keynote discussion at this year’s Technology Day event hosted by Constructech magazine on September 14, just outside Chicago. Bringing together a panel of contractors and construction educators, the debate will focus on such topics as how to prepare workers to use technology, and how to appropriate bridge the gap between industry and education, among others. It will certainly be a conversation that cannot be missed for anyone engaged in the future of construction.