Some of my fondest memories of my children's high school years were our college campus visits. At the end of each junior year, each child picked three or four schools for a visit. Some were official visits requiring the mandatory stop at the recruiting office. Other stops were just brief campus walkthroughs to judge the sense of community. But each visit provided some quiet time to share thoughts about the future.

Regardless of the type of campus visit, our college host always brought up a topic that was dear to my pocketbook — the possibility of employment following graduation. My children were often influenced by factors such as educational interests, campus life, and athletic opportunities. I wanted to know that following their investment, my child would actually be able to live on their own following graduation, or at least get off my phone plan.

Viable post-graduation employment seems to be more problematic now than it was a decade ago. For example, a national bank is now offering grants to new graduates to help them learn job hunting skills.

Fortunately this year's graduates from the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) programs don't have this problem. The concrete industry is hiring. The CIM program chairs reported graduates received three to four job offers for full time employment. They also reported that their students are routinely securing paid internships.

But the reality is that our CIM programs need more students to fill the jobs still coming in. Dr. Heather Brown, program director at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), reported that her placement office is receiving about five new job postings each week. "As the CIM program becomes more recognized employers are looking for our students," says Brown.

One of the interesting facts is how the employment opportunities for new graduates have expanded. When the CIM degree was first established, most graduates were hired by material suppliers. But in recent years, concrete contractors have begun to heavily recruit graduates.

The National Steering Committee recognized this trend several years ago. "Companies cut back so deeply in the last downturn, that managers recognize the need for new talent is the only path to secured growth," says Gene Martineau, the group's executive director.

But there's another reason why employers are looking for CIM grads. An ongoing alumni survey conducted by MTSU, more than 85% of their graduates have remained in the concrete industry five years following their graduation . This retention rate is very high when compared to other school programs.

CIM enrollment at each of the campuses are on the rise. But not from freshmen classes. "We are experiencing a high transfer rate from other academic programs, as sophomores and juniors hear of the job opportunities and industry support our students receive, says Dr. Mohamed Magroub, the CIM program chair at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Even so, CIM programs are working hard to fill the freshman recruit gap. Programs are aimed to interest nearby high school students, science teachers, and guidance counselors on the benefits of a career in our industry. Dr. John Schemmel at Texas State University is taking the recruitment effort to middle school students. He is developing a week-long summer camp that will expose students, teachers, and parents to concrete industry.

Dr. Tanya Komas at California State University - Chico is focusing on another group of prospective students. Komas is developing an outreach program for ex-military personnel. Several of the program's recent graduates have embarked on concrete industry jobs. One her effective hooks is the opportunity to participate in the Decorate Concrete Institute's repair program at Alcartaz. After the returning veterans receive this hands-on training on decorative concrete repair, they become interested in the CIM program.

After listening to the faculty reports from the CIM’s program chairs last month, I strongly encourage you to suggest to every potential college student you know to stop at one of the four campuses offering our industry's degree.

Learn more about the Concrete Industry Management degree and how to schedule a campus tour.