A successful construction pilot program of eight students sees another school year and eight more students signed up.

A successful construction pilot program of eight students sees another school year and eight more students signed up.

Columbus voters have given 37 career-tech programs in Columbus City Schools the chance to double enrollment. That's especially good news for six construction companies that helped develop a pilot program to boost their pool of work-ready graduates.

In a new report, KidsOhio.org says a construction pilot program in the 2015-2016 school year was deemed a success both by eight participating students and the four companies that hired them as interns. In the current school year, another eight students are enrolled with a goal of increasing that to 24.

A major innovation of the program was to have students spend one week in classes and another week on job sites, rather than the old model of a half-day in school and a half-day at work, says Mark Real, president of KidsOhio.org.

Six local construction companies partnered with the school district's Fort Hayes Career Center to develop the pilot program for seniors. Four that brought in the first eight interns were Elford Inc., Mid-City Electric, Bruner Corporation and Corna-Kokosing. The other two companies helping develop the pilot were McDaniel's Construction and George J. Igel & Company.

A short labor supply for construction trades has been a nationwide problem and a regional concern in recent years. Real says the companies that worked on the pilot "were very frank about their interest in this. They had a better idea in terms of the immersion on the job site."

The school district was already hoping to increase students in the construction internship program. Real says career-tech education money in the levy "helped the district keep its promise without having to cut other programs."

In the KidsOhio.org report, Corna Kokosing Executive Vice President Jim Negron, an early champion for boosting vocational programs, praised the pilot for helping employers as well as kids. "We need to make sure both students and people on the business side get the right training," Negron says.