Free camp teaches girls about construction as Central Texas continues to grow

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — This week, 36 middle school girls are geared up with hard hats, safety goggles and their own tools ready to tackle new tasks.

It’s all part of the free Camp NAWIC, or the National Association of Women in Construction, which provides hands-on learning. Those behind the camp said they want to see more women make their mark in the male-dominated industry.

“We wanted something that was going to be very hands-on, and a true learning opportunity,” explained Jolsna Thomas, president of sponsor Rosendin Foundation and co-chair for the camp network. “That way, the girls would understand how to work with tools, they would understand the why behind certain things of why you did it, as well as to actually really work with their tools and build something and be proud of it.”

There are 104,159 people who work in construction in the Austin area, and women only make up about 10% of that, according to Workforce Solutions Capital Area. That’s similar to the ratio nationwide.

Industry leaders said that number is even lower when it comes to women actually working out in the field, and these types of jobs are in demand in Austin and will stay in demand.

  • learn how to use power tools. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)
  • learn how to use power tools. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

Workforce Solutions Capital Area reports the manufacturing, skilled trades and transit industries have seen high growth in our area with many more jobs coming soon as major projects like Project Connect begin.

Those behind the camp said even if the girls don’t decide to go into the industry, they’re hoping this experience will at least help them learn new skills. 

“Whether it’s fixing a stop in the drain of the sink, changing garbage disposal or there’s an issue with the shower and figuring out where the issue is and how to repair it, that type of practicality is going to be helpful for all of our campers throughout their life,” Thomas said.

Thomas added the camp helps provide the young girls with a boost of confidence.

“I am hoping to learn, like just kind of how to use certain tools, because I know that that would be helpful for like, just in general,” said first-time camper Jessie Olmedo.

“I would like to learn how to like use more tools,” added Ari Medina, a returning camper.

Over the next decade, Workforce Solutions Capital Area reports the construction industry is projected to need an additional 21,368 workers in the Austin area.

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