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According to the 2020 St. Louis Economic Workforce Report, women make up 51% of the workforce, yet nationally only 4% account for the construction industry.  The Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development-Missouri Apprenticeship Team recently reported that 8% of Missouri’s apprentices are women.  In the past, it has been a struggle to get women into the trades.  The Construction Forum’s mission is to facilitate the collaboration of all the stakeholders in the STL Region’s construction industry to create inclusive, robust employment and economic growth.  Four Rivers Career Center will be hosting The Construction Forum, “Yeah, I Built That…and So Can You!” panel on April 27, 2021 from 9:30AM- 10:30AM.  This is a virtual event, so please register here:

Join us as we provide an opportunity to share and bring awareness to middle school and high school youth of the many career opportunities in the Construction-Built environment.   The Four Rivers Career Center(FRCC) has 79 Building Trades students taught by instructors, Jeff Frankenberg and Robert York.  Like the workforce percentage, only three females are enrolled.  You will get to meet our 17 year-old Carpenter Apprentice, Morgan Phinney.  She is a registered apprentice and employee of Jasper Quality Construction.  She is also the first FRCC female to join the STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council apprentices.  Our panel of experts are Dr. Linda Little, Asst. Director of the St Louis Electrical JATC; Sheena Jones, Sheet Metal Worker; Eli Knight, Project Manager, Green Street Building Group; and Cory Elliott, Founder and CEO of CMT, LLC.  Cynthia Walker, Apprenticeship Coordinator, FRCC will be facilitating the discussion.

Our BUILD Academy is what caught the eye of Diana Wilhold of The Construction Forum. Our FRCC Director, Andy Robinson was recently awarded one of their “Building Tomorrow Awards”.  BUILD Academy (Building Unique and Innovative Learning by Design)offers an authentic project-based learning experience to over 100 sixth-grade students from the School District of Washington (SDOW). College and Career Specialist-Annie Wieland and a team of four 6th grade educators from two SDOW Elementary Schools were challenged to create an innovative, practical application of core education through the Building Trades program at FRCC.   Using what the students learned in their classroom, they applied practical and career relevant skills to design and construct a dog house.  These dog houses are auctioned off in a community event that helps fund the program.  This high energy,  career-ready program recruits 6th graders into the construction program and exposes students to possible careers that they may not know exists before they enter the BUILD Academy.  Read more about the “Building Tomorrow Awards” and the Construction Forum here:

Four Rivers Career Center (FRCC) Works!  Not only does the excellent instruction work, but it meets industry standards for students to gain skilled employment. Our students are going to work in career areas they have trained in, not just gaining them a general high school diploma.   High quality career and technical training introduces a student to the world of work, teaching both workplace readiness skills and skills that they will use in a lucrative career field. Building blocks are taught to get them started and lifelong learning is encouraged.

Since gaining certification with the Department of Labor, closely working and being trained by members of the Missouri Apprenticeship Team, and our ATR, Wade Johnson, the Youth Registered Apprenticeship (YRA) Program has signed 32 apprentices, and 25 employers in 9 occupations.  The program captured the attention of Department of Labor Intermediaries like TransPORTS and Urban Institute as well as Governor Parson in March. Just a few short weeks ago, Diana Wilhold, Deputy Executive Director of The Construction Forum, came for a visit and to present the “Building Tomorrow Award” to FRCC Director Andy Robinson. 

As I first stepped onto the FRCC campus in November 2019, I was met by Superintendent, Dr. Lori Van Leer; Director, Andy Robinson; and College and Career Specialist, Annie Wieland.  I was immediately impressed with the hospitality of the staff, variety of programs offered, and the state of the art laboratories.  They shared their vision of apprenticeship and I quickly wanted to join forces.  The Building Trades 1 & 2  instructors, Jeff Frakenberg and Robert York would be the key to our success.  They observe these students and know what it takes for them to excel in this industry.

Collaborating with the Washington Chamber of Commerce, City of Washington Officials, and local employers, the FRCC Apprenticeship mission was executed and the program was registered in June 2020.  Our industry relevant instructors have made merit based recommendations for 45 students.  Our employed 34 Youth Registered Apprentices span industry competencies of Carpenter, Machinist, Welder, Auto Tech, Collision Repair Tech, Pool and Spa Tech, Information Technology, and Engineering.  With decades of employer relationships, the FRCC has made this program a smooth pipeline for long-term employment opportunities for our students.  In January 2021, we worked with Scott Byrne, SDOW Board member, and RJ Catizon,Outreach Specialist/Intake Coordinator for St Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program on how to get the St. Louis/KC Regional Council involved to better our apprenticeship opportunities for students interested in the union.  Within a month, we had 8 students signed with area union employers.  Independent contractors are also in the wings to join.  As our vast team looks back on 2020-2021, we can truly say, “Yeah, WE Built That”.  Together with many minds and hands working together the story is still being written on the impact this Career Technical Education Center will make on the workforce and in particular the Construction-built environment. 

Pictured Sitting Left to Right: Andy Robinson, FRCC Director; Robert York, BCT2 Instructor; RJ Catizon,Outreach Specialist/Intake Coordinator for St Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program; Morgan Phinney, Carpenter Apprentice; Zach Jasper, FRCC Graduate and Carpenter at Jasper Quality Construction; Wade Johnson, Office of Apprenticeship ATR; (Standing left to right) Dr. Lori Van Leer, SDOW Superintendent; Jeff Frankenberg BC1 Instructor; Jasper Quality Construction owners, Donny and Diane Jasper.

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