Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program

To address the growing skilled workers gap, the R-80 Construction Trades Program equips students with the requisite skills to become the next generation of certified trades.

Salem, Missouri

Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program

Vote for this Project


At A Glance

Location: Salem, Missouri

FHLB Des Moines Member: Bank of Salem

The Impact: This program addresses several challenges facing the Salem community’s current labor pool, worker skills gap, aging workforce and a lack of a talent pipeline for key professions in the area. By equipping students with the requisite skills they need to succeed, the program fosters an alternative path outside a traditional four-year college or university.

The Need: The Salem community is experiencing a 32 percent poverty rate, in addition to a dwindling population, changing economic landscape and oversupply of housing. The Salem R80 Construction Trades Program is working to address these issues head-on through critical trades skill-building opportunities for high school students. In turn, the program encourages these students to build their skills through mentorship and on-the-job training, with intentions of keeping this critical workforce within Salem.

The Results: This program will help foster the next generation of skilled trade workers in Salem, giving students real-world experience and preparing them for their futures.

The Key Players: Construction Trades Advisory Council, Bank of Salem, Salem R-80 High School, Foxhole Technology, Inc. and other community partners.

The Full Story

Communities across the nation are dealing with a talent gap in multiple industries, with the skilled trade gap widening each year. At the same time, many families may not have the means or the desire to pursue a four-year college or university degree. Leaders in the Salem community are working toward eliminating these opportunity gaps through the Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program. This mentorship and hands-on learning program is open to high-school students interested in developing a career path outside the traditional, four-year college degree.

In addition to the goal of increasing skilled trade workers, the city of Salem is working to eliminate poverty and hardship factors that are leading families to leave the community in search of better opportunities. With 70 percent of graduating seniors being unable to finish a four-year degree within a five-year timeframe, city leaders are also looking to address this growing issue. Through the program, students have the opportunity to earn a paycheck as they learn from skilled professionals, gaining key on-the-job experience before they graduate.

Student participation has increased over 400 percent since the program launched in 2018, and now includes over 160 students. These individuals are pursuing a variety of skilled trade paths, including certified roofers, electricians, plumbers, painters, landscapers, masons and carpenters. The curriculum is structured in a linear fashion, allowing students to build upon a foundation of knowledge for specific trades and move toward application.

An additional aspect of the program includes improving the condition of available housing in Salem. The planning leadership team is working on a construction trades skills program which focuses on making improvements to community housing, leading to increased opportunities for the students.