HP Podcast

Teach to Work: Equipping the Next Generation of Young Professionals

by Emily Langner

On season 3, episode 3 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Patty Alper, president of marketing and consulting company Alper Portfolio Group. She is working to address the workforce shortage in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries by educating students through mentorships and meaningful on-the-job experience.

Patty Alper

Alper is author of the book, Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America. On the podcast, she shared how Project Based Mentoring, a model she has trademarked, brings together corporate employees, retirees, and businesses as a corps of knowledge practitioners with the common goal of passing on skills to the next generation of business professionals.

A significant workforce shortage continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing the architecture, engineering, and construction industries today. In a recent report by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the construction industry will need to attract an estimated 546,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2023 to meet the demand for labor.

Alper says that in her time talking and connecting with employers, she has seen a disconnect between the skills they are looking for in new hires and what is being taught today. She says, “Sometimes educators are swamped in their own way and may not be versed in where the world is going and the skills that are required, and those skills keep changing. Change is the constant.” She says “bringing industry in as part of education” allows employers to share with students the skills and knowledge they are looking for. Alper adds that when students are provided with the necessary skills to survive and thrive in their chosen career path, they can enter the workforce with a sense of confidence and the experience to solve real-world problems.

Through the Teach to Work program, Alper assists schools in implementing mentorships to enrich their current programs. Schools then partner with outside firms to pair students with a professional in their field, giving the student an opportunity to lead a project from start to finish with support from their mentor. With the mentor acting as a guide, the student can take ownership of a project and experience real-world scenarios that prepare them for their future career.

Alper says incorporating these mentorships as a regular part of the educational experience can help close the skills gap and prepare the next generation of professionals to be successful in the workforce. She adds that giving these young people the skills they need to succeed can have a substantial impact on filling crucial roles in the industry, and pairing students with meaningful and lucrative careers in their chosen field.

Listen to season 3, episode 3 now!