As part of Northeastern’s recent Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Lab co-sponsored a webinar titled Entrepreneurial Diversity in the Construction Sector. A panel of industry experts — Margarita Polanco (Regional Supplier Diversity Manager, DPR Construction), Rosanna Molinaro (Director of Procurement & Contracts Management, Northeastern University – Planning, Real Estate & Facilities), and Samilys Rodriguez (Director of WBE & Corporate Services, WBENC New England at the Center for Women & Enterprise) — shared their experiences and insights, highlighting the importance of embracing diversity in this growing field.

The outlook for job growth in the construction sector in North America is very positive, propelled by three trends:

1. Renewal and Maintenance Projects: Aging infrastructure requires renovation and maintenance, leading to job opportunities in repair and retrofitting projects.

2. Technological Advancements: The adoption of new technologies in construction, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), robotics/drones, and sustainable building practices, could create jobs for skilled workers specializing in these areas.

3. Green Construction: Growing emphasis on environmentally friendly and energy-efficient construction practices could lead to increased demand for workers and companies skilled in green building techniques.

Reflecting on the career opportunities in the sector, especially for budding entrepreneurs, several themes emerged from the panel discussion:

· The construction industry offers a wide range of entry points, including roles in project management, construction management, safe operations, trades, and support functions like legal, finance, data project controls, architecture, and engineering.

· There are programs designed to support entrepreneurs from protected categories, such as women, minorities, and veterans, to join the construction sector. However, historical barriers and a lack of knowledge on engaging in business ownership, particularly for people of color and women, can amplify challenges in creating and sustaining businesses.

· Those interested in entrepreneurial careers in the sector need to tap into resources that aim to address barriers by providing technical assistance, mentorship, access to capital, certification guidance, and opportunities for diverse businesses to connect with contractors.

To listen to the panel discussion, click here.