Fast-growing Las Vegas to get construction-focused high school

Construction professions are plentiful, often lucrative and in high demand in the quickly-growing Las Vegas valley.
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 7:56 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Construction professions are plentiful, often lucrative and in high demand in the quickly-growing Las Vegas valley. In response to that, a new trades school is being developed in the valley -- a charter high school -- that aims to expose students to careers in construction.

A state board unanimously approved the charter on Monday: Southern Nevada Trades High School will debut in East Las Vegas in August of 2023.

“It’s wonderful news,” said Brett Willis, chair of the charter school.

But it’s not the first school of its kind in the Silver State.

The agreement contains a fully executed partnership with ACE High School in Reno, a public charter school sponsored by the Washoe County School District. The Washoe County school with a similar concept is lauded for its success in improving the pipeline for construction professionals in Northern Nevada, according to Rebecca Feiden, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority.

Now, Southern Nevada Trades High School is modeling itself after ACE.

“I just want to be there to consult and guide if needed,” said Bob DeRuse, Director, ACE High School in Reno.

Feiden said Willis’ plan for his school was strong and well thought-out and said it presented a clear solution to a problem. That problem? An estimated 35 percent more workers are needed over the next decade to meet the demand for new construction. Ideally, the school would help create a pipeline.

“It was identified several years ago that there are just thousands of jobs that we’re short. I know every day we’re out looking for those employees,” said Willis.

According to Willis, in its first year, it will accept up to 200 freshmen and sophomores.

“We’re a school that’s opening up that’s basically interested in helping kids combine academics with career, technical education. That means there’s gonna be hands-on projects.”

Working professionals, including ones who are aging out of the industry, will be brought in for skill training and teaching.

“A lot of people think that a construction class is just swinging a hammer. There’s a lot more to that,” said DeRuse.

About 60% of students who graduate from Reno’s ACE High School go straight into the workforce after graduating, according to numbers provided by DeRuse. He said they have a 100% graduation success rate.

He added that only about 30% of students go to college after graduating. However, DeRuse wants to clarify that this model certainly does not discourage a college education. In fact, he said it prepares them for it if they choose that route.

“Most of our students are dual credit so they’re getting college credit and high school credit at the same time,” said DeRuse.

Southern Nevada Trades High School will follow a similar structure, according to Willis. Students can earn a skills-based certificate from the Nevada System of Higher Education during their high school experience, according to DeRuse, which can make them appealing to hiring managers, and provide career readiness.

Leaders are actively working to recruit students for the next school year. Willis said they are targeting students who live in zip code 89110, but likely won’t limit recruitment to that zip code exclusively.

Go to Southern Nevada Trades High School’s website to learn more.