PEARL ― Career and technical education students across Mississippi are being challenged to put their creative skills to the test during the Building Futures Construction Competition.

Organized by the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, the competition invites Mississippi CTE construction and manufacturing programs for grades 9-12 to build projects of their choice using wood or metal. Entries will be judged on April 15, 2020, during the MCEF SkillsUSA State Competition at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson.

“This isn’t just a competition — it’s a celebration of the many ways modern CTE programs are preparing students for stable, rewarding futures,” said MCEF President Mike Barkett. “Previous entries reflected hope, optimism, ambition and aspirations of our students’ futures. And based on the concepts we’re hearing about this year, the future certainly looks bright.”

Teams will have approximately six months to build projects and plan for the transportation of their projects to the west bay of the Mississippi Trade Mart for judging. The top teams in the two categories (wood and metal) will be awarded $1,000 cash prizes for their school programs. They also may advertise and sell their projects at the MCEF SkillsUSA competition.

There is no entry fee, and teams must register by Oct. 31 to participate. Full contest guidelines are available at

The competition announcement coincides with National Careers in Construction Month in October. Led in Mississippi by MCEF, the annual, month-long initiative focuses on statewide efforts to combat shortages of craft professionals by ensuring that more students have access to modern, high-quality CTE training programs.

“Modern CTE programs provide a solid foundation for the future,” Barkett said. “Students can complete industry-based certification programs and go to work after they graduate or use their specialized training to get a head start on college degrees. In the meantime, they’re exposed to cutting-edge technologies that are highly valued in the job market.”

Professional trades are among the highest paying and fastest growing jobs in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction occupations are projected to grow 11 percent through 2026. The BLS also reports that nearly 200,000 construction jobs in the U.S. were unfilled at the start of 2019 — a trend that’s being felt in Mississippi.

“By 2020, Mississippi will need more than 80,000 craft professionals to meet the needs of the state’s growing construction industry,” Barkett said. “MCEF is working to ensure that students throughout Mississippi have access to high-quality training programs that will prepare them to pursue career opportunities in construction and other growing industries.”

The mission of the non-profit MCEF is to promote careers, recruit capable individuals and train a quality workforce for the construction and manufacturing industries in the state of Mississippi. MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades.

Learn more about MCEF at "Careers in Construction Month" is an initiative of the National Center for Construction Education & Research and Build Your Future ― see for details.