Arizona’s construction industry is desperately seeking ways to increase its ranks of skilled workers, particularly as the Baby Boom generation starts to take early retirement in 2008, according to a KVOA/Tucson story.

The Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University is set to enroll its largest number of women ever this fall, largely due to the efforts of its new female recruiter,Melissa Luna, officials said.

The school currently counts a total student population of 375 males and 43 females. This fall, 98 students will enter the school, 14 of which are women.

Two metro Phoenix construction companies and one California company are funding 13 grants for students. Eight are specifically for women. Each student will receive $1,000 for the year, except for one out-of-state female, who will receive $1,500, Luna said.

All students who received grants were in the top 25 percent of their high school classes.

“What I tell the females when I am recruiting them is that there are job opportunities,” she told KVOA. “They will be more marketable because the industry is looking for more females.”

Nationwide, women comprised more than 9.5 percent of workers in the construction industry in 2006, down slightly from about 10.5 percent a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.