O&G Builds: Building Pathways to Careers in Construction

O&G Builds: Building Pathways to Careers in Construction

O&G Builds is a revolutionary program created by O&G Industries, Inc. of Torrington, Conn. It turns school construction projects into dynamic, interactive classrooms. By immersing high school students in a hands-on, experiential learning environment, O&G Builds offers a unique educational opportunity that allows students to earn credits while exploring careers in construction. Throughout the program, students gain invaluable insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of construction projects, with interactive lectures from the project management team, design team, and trade contractors.

Tailored to meet the unique needs of each school, the program spans an entire school year, with regular meetings covering a wide range of topics, including construction management, architecture, engineering, masonry, HVAC, site work, electrical, plumbing, sheet metal, steel erection, and safety. The result is a comprehensive, immersive experience that helps students make meaningful connections between classroom theory and hands-on work.

During an O&G Builds session at Beman Middle School (formally Woodrow Willson Middle School), students toured their future school in virtual reality.

O&G launched the O&G Builds program in 2013 with PlattBuilds at the Orville H. Platt High School Career Center, which at the time had a lower number of college-bound students graduating compared to the Connecticut average. With the number of skilled tradespeople on the decline for over a decade, the school staff and the O&G Building Group collaborated to create a program that would show students they could prepare for high-paying jobs in construction without a college degree.

The program lasted for the life cycle of the three-year construction project and had 90 students participate. The results were nothing short of outstanding. Many of the participating students have gone on to pursue careers in construction-related fields, including construction management, architecture, and skilled trades.

Plumbing students from Oliver Wolcott Technical High School tour the Torrington Middle High School project and learn about core boring.

School counselors who oversaw the PlattBuilds program praised it as an exceptional educational opportunity, allowing students to explore construction-related careers and forge a real connection between classroom theory and hands-on work. What began as a program to assist high school students in building pathways to construction careers has since been adapted to suit all school levels, taking on different forms from one-off project tours to project team-guided Lego builds.

The O&G Builds program has earned several accolades, including the Midstate Chamber of Commerce Innovation in Education Award, the Midstate Chamber of Commerce Recognition for Business & Education Excellence, and the Connecticut Construction Industries Association (CCIA) Community Service Award.

Overall, the program represents a transformative approach to education that has the power to shape the next generation of skilled workers in the construction industry and beyond. The program’s remarkable success speaks volumes about its effectiveness and the value it offers to students seeking high-paying jobs without needing a college degree.