Three Marquette University students set out with a lofty goal – to close the widening skills gap in the construction industry.

Davis MarklinJohn Haboush and Sarthak Dabas created an online platform called Skilline, which connects construction firms with young people interested in the skilled trades.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 150,000 unfilled construction jobs nationwide. The large amount of vacant positions paired with an aging workforce inspired the trio to target younger workers.

To increase their lead generation, companies need to grab the attention of high school students, said Marklin, the chief operations officer. Right now, similar staffing firms exist such as Craftforce, but they do not focus on those who are looking for entry level positions or apprenticeships.

“We’re different because we are specifically targeting untrained talent,” Marklin said.

Employers that subscribe to Skilline can leave students with more than a brochure when they visit high school job fairs. They can ask students to fill out a Skilline personal profile, which helps gauge the candidates’ interest and experience.

The personal profile helps blend technology and more traditional recruiting methods. Dabas, chief information officer for Skilline, will use the data from the profiles as a sort of “artificial intelligence.” He said once enough people take it, the data will give him a good sense of what specific jobs or companies fit a candidate, and the candidate’s likelihood of staying in that area.

“This gives employers a way to track candidates,” Marklin said.

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