Rosie’s Girls camp introduces Cincinnati teens to the construction industry

Updated Aug 13, 2013
Shere Tolbert, 14, uses a drill at the Rosie’s Girls construction camp in Cincinnati. Credit: WCPO.comShere Tolbert, 14, uses a drill at the Rosie’s Girls construction camp in Cincinnati. Credit:

For the past six years, a summer day camp in Cincinnati has introduced dozens of teenage girls to the construction industry with hands-on training.

This year’s three week course graduated 18 girls from 15 different Cincinnati communities, according to a report from ABC affiliate WCPO. Over the course of the camp, the girls took electrical, welding and carpentry classes and used their newfound knowledge to build toolboxes, lamps and even a 10 x 10 x 12 playhouse.

Shere Tolbert, 14, told the station that even before the camp started she had an interest in welding, but is now considering continuing her education for a career in construction.

Just like Minnesota’s Women Wear Hard Hats Too program, Rosie’s Girls has the goal of increasing the number of women working in the construction industry. Rosie’s Girls co-founder Janice Urbanik said the number of American women in the industry right now is about 3 percent.

Beyond that, Rosie’s Girls wants its campers to know that their opportunities in the industry aren’t restricted to office jobs. Three-fourths of women in construction do sales and office work, according to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

Urbanik told the station that the camp is held at Woodward Career and Technical College in the hopes that the girls will choose to go to high school there. In the Cincinnati Public School system, students can choose which high school they attend and Woodward has programs for construction, engineering and manufacturing.

That’s a great idea and it’s one badly in need of replication in order to increase the number of young Americans going into the trades. A similar day camp idea in Oregon has enjoyed success and these initiatives could lead to more and more vocational training in U.S. schools.

The NAWIC wants women to know that their opportunity for employment in the construction industry is high. The group estimates there will be 1 million new construction jobs to be had by 2016. Meanwhile, many workers are “aging out” of the industry. The current average age of construction workers is 48, meaning many will retire in the next 10 to 20 years.