A classroom at Bonham Pre-K. Credit: Courtesy / Nick Simonite
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A well-known proverb states, it takes a village to raise a child. San Antonio’s village is comprised of strong and supportive resources, like parents and educators, who each have integral roles in educating the city’s children.

The San Antonio business community has a vested interest in partnering with local schools as they will need to hire from a diverse mix of educated, knowledgeable, and skilled individuals, and should have a desire to do so from within the local community.

However, for that to happen, students in San Antonio have to receive a quality education and be exposed to many business professionals across multiple industries. Early exposure to the education and skills needed to enter into any career field will help students narrow their focus and create their own path to achieving their goals.

The upcoming 3rd annual San Antonio Regional Public PK-12 Education Forum will take place at the Witte Museum’s Mays Family Center on March 6, and is an opportunity for local businesses to step away from the fringes of the village and become active participants. By learning about current educational challenges and initiatives of various forum participants, the local business community can work to complement existing educational systems by providing unparalleled learning experiences to San Antonio students.

At Joeris General Contractors, we have found our partnerships with school districts and local educational organizations to be rewarding and invaluable. We have more than 50 years of business experience in San Antonio, and for the past several decades we have partnered with the city’s school districts to offer students the opportunity to meet and interact with professionals within the construction industry.

We know learning does not stop once a student steps outside of a classroom, and it is our goal to ensure students are challenged to think critically when applying lessons and concepts taught in school. We take deliberate steps to cultivate professional business and mentor relationships with students so they have role models and guides to help them succeed. Additionally, we provide the opportunity for students to obtain much needed work experience that can help them get an entry-level position.

We welcome the chance to continue students’ learning opportunities and further prepare them for their future careers by offering internships, job shadowing, and giving in-classroom presentations. We encourage and support our staff, including project managers, superintendents, marketing professionals, Building Information Modeling (BIM) specialists, estimators, and human resource professionals, to engage in thoughtful conversations with students to describe the various types of people needed within the construction industry.

We take a hands-on approach when partnering with the school districts by giving job-site tours to students. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of any partnership because students can see firsthand how a construction professional does work in the “real world.” By touring the construction project sites, students witness leadership, organizational, and communication skills needed to manage multimillion-dollar projects.

These skills are essential, and so is a good understanding of the many tools used on a construction site, including new and emerging technology. Our project teams and construction technology specialists demonstrate to students the different construction technologies we use daily to coordinate with multiple trade partners, assess constructability, and communicate problems and potential solutions to owners and architects.

Students discovering the industry’s use of digital scanning, 3D modeling, and virtual reality at a young age may inspire them to pursue a career in construction or another STEM-related field. While we encourage all students to pursue their passions, we are keenly aware of the projected growth in STEM occupations and need for future construction leaders, engineers, and architects.

Just as there is the need for future workers with STEM-related degrees, there is an even more urgent need for skilled workers within the construction industry. Skilled tradesmen, such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters are in high-demand; those careers could be among those students choose when a four-year college degree is not for them. Joeris employees a number of skilled workers and supports future skilled tradespeople through industry organizations.

Our partnerships with San Antonio school districts have been such a great success that our Austin and Dallas offices have also developed partnerships with local school districts there. We have found that many educators welcome the opportunity to invite industry professionals into the classroom to give students a chance to learn more about different career opportunities.

We have become part of the San Antonio education village, and we challenge other San Antonio business leaders to attend the March 6 forum and become part of the village, too. Initiate a partnership with a local school district and enhance the current educational curriculum by allowing students to learn about your business.

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Gary Joeris

Gary Joeris is CEO of Joeris General Contractors, the largest commercial general contracting firm in San Antonio. The 50-year-old firm has offices in Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston builds throughout...