Leaders in the construction industry admit they have a major diversity problem.

Most of the workforce is white and male, and the industry's largest trade group says it's abundantly clear that must change, fast.

"If the construction industry cannot find an effective way to recruit hire and develop a more diverse workforce, we won't be able to keep pace with demand," said Stephen Sandherr, CEO of Associated General Contractors of America.

Standing on the steps of City Hall, AGC announced a nationwide push to make vocational training available to more high school students, in an effort to reach minorities and women at an earlier age. It will help pay for construction career and technical education programs in schools in the city and across the country.

According to a study conducted by the group, 80 percent of contractors nationwide say they're having a tough time finding skilled workers. They believe programs like this will help to change that.

"There are construction skyscrapers all around us, and the state is in the midst of an unprecedented building boom, but for too many of us, the train of opportunity has passed us by," said the Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff of Canaan Baptist Church.

Janice Haughton grew up in the south Bronx, the daughter of a construction worker. She admired her father's work ethic and knew that's what she wanted to do, but wasn't sure how a black woman like herself would be able to get a job like his.

"Quite frankly, as a young African American in the Bronx, I did not understand that there were opportunities for people like me in the construction industry," said Haughton.

She found her way into the industry and is now paying it forward, running a mentoring program for teens who aspire to work in construction and design at Turner Construction, one of the city's largest builders.

"Construction is a lot more than jackhammering and wielding a hammer or even standing out and waving a flag. There's so many incredible opportunities," she said.

The hope is that with this program comes a more diverse pool of talent, and that those working on projects in communities across the city and country reflect the people who live there.