Reshaping the Construction Industry

Sweeping education reforms passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 will be a great help to business leaders in Houston as they embark on an unprecedented push to promote “middle skills” jobs.  Those are well-paying jobs that, as the Construction Citizen team has been telling you, require more than a high school diploma but less than a degree from a four-year college or university.  It’s estimated that a whopping 40 percent of jobs in the greater Houston area fit that definition.

A huge piece of that education reform package, known as House Bill 5, was the creation of multiple pathways for students to earn their high school diploma.  Among the options students and parents can now choose from is a career in the blue collar trades like construction.   Read more » about Texas Education Reforms are Key in Promoting the Middle Skills

Houston, Texas — This week several conservative and business leaders in Texas called on the Texas delegation to work toward passing meaningful immigration reform in Congress as soon as possible. Participating in Wednesday’s event were Norman Adams, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy, Pat Kiley, CEO of Kiley Advisors and former Director of Associated General Contractors, Charles Foster of Foster law firm and Greater Houston Partnership, Darlene East, President of Holes Inc., Kevin Carroll, Gringos Mexican Kitchen franchisee, and Alan Nash attorney retired from Mitchell Energy (Republican Delegate).

"We need Congressional legislation to fix our broken immigration system. An executive order will likely address less than 20% of undocumented immigrants. We need a modern immigration system that drives our economy rather than ignores it.” said Norman Adams, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy.   Read more » about More Than 100 Texas Business Owners Urge Republicans in Congress to Pass Immigration Reform Now

In the grand foyer at Wortham Theater filled with more than 200 construction professionals, Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston awarded members for their outstanding project achievements at the Excellence in Construction Gala on October 30.

ABC Member companies submitted their impressive projects to be reviewed by industry expert judges.  These projects ranged from heavy industrial to commercial and interior renovations.  Keeping with ABC's commitment to safety, the majority of the submissions had no reported injuries or incidents during their extensive and remarkable work.

The event, led by guest emcee Josh Reno, 20-year radio veteran with 94.5 the Buzz in Houston, honored these projects that create the landscape of Houston and beyond.  At the end of the evening, ABC awarded the coveted “Best of Houston” award to
E.E. Reed Construction for their outstanding work.   Read more » about ABC’s Excellence in Construction Award Winners Have Created Houston Skyline

CMD, Dodge, Lodging Econometrics reports imply spending gain; higher ed faces hurdle

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Several recent private indicators point to expanding construction activity ahead. The value of nonresidential construction starts grew 11% from October 2013 to October 2014 and 7.5% year-to-date for the first 10 months of 2014 combined compared to the same period last year, CMD (formerly Reed Construction Data) reported last Thursday, based on data it collected. Nonresidential building starts increased 9.8% year-over-year and 5.7% year-to-date, with commercial building categories up 25% and 4.8% respectively, and institutional buildings up 5.2% and 7.6%. Heavy engineering starts climbed 9.8% and 5.7%.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: November 10-17, 2014

The Houston region, just like many other areas of the country, faces a paradox when it comes to matching people with the right jobs.  But the challenge in Houston is exacerbated in a way that other places would love.  There are so many jobs available that employers simply can’t keep up.  The Construction Citizen team has written many times about the skills gap that leads to a situation where there are simultaneously plenty of openings for “middle-skills” jobs while there are lots of unemployed and under-employed people.  Middle-skills jobs, by the way, are positions that require more training than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree from a university.

The Greater Houston Partnership, the area’s largest business group, recently put a focus on this portion of the workforce.  They’re now moving in this direction for a pretty straightforward reason: the one thing that could bring the region’s rapidly growing economy to a screeching halt is a lack of skilled workers, GHP President and CEO Bob Harvey told a crowd of about 300 gathered at the University of Houston last week.   Read more » about Houston’s Business Community Starts a Push to Promote the Middle Skills

The oil and gas boom created by fracking and other new technologies has sent the demand for new construction along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana through the roof.  The impact of this surge in construction is being felt throughout the Midwest as well.

The demand has outstripped the supply of qualified construction craft professionals, and that has affected new commercial and industrial construction projects.  There is a growing shortage of skilled craft professionals needed to build the petrochemical plants, office buildings, warehouses, roads, and other projects spawned by the incredible growth in our regional economy – growth that is expected to continue into the next decade.  To address these needs, Construction Citizen this week launched its new
Craft Careers section and is expanding its editorial focus to include topics in industrial as well as in commercial construction.   Read more » about Construction Citizen Launches Careers Section for Craft Professionals

As we reflect on Veterans Day this week, most of us think about the countless blessings we have because of the sacrifice and service of our country’s brave men and women.  There is no doubt that this holiday gives deserving recognition to those who have so gallantly served.  However, we can do more than simply recognize our veterans.  We must remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Earlier this year, the construction industry committed to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.  In order to accomplish this, Build Your Future (BYF) partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense to use an effective recruitment tool known as SkillBridge, an online, Twitter-based portal specifically for transitioning service members.

During the last 180 days of service, military personnel undergo a transition phase.  Transitioning into civilian life is a daunting challenge for many service members, and two out three veterans report having a difficult time during this process.  In addition, veterans listed the greatest challenge during the phase was finding a civilian job.   Read more » about What Veterans Day Means to Our Industry

An astounding 83 percent of construction firms around the nation are having trouble finding enough workers and the numbers in Texas are even worse, according to a new survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America.

AGC surveyed 1,086 companies in late August and early September and said not only were the vast majority of them struggling to find craft workers, but 61% said the same about recruitment for key professional positions.  Drilling down into the Texas numbers, 90 percent of construction companies faced serious challenges in finding enough craft professionals and half of them are quickly losing workers to other industries.   Read more » about Survey Shows Texas Construction Companies Are Struggling to Find Workers

Employment rises in October; spending falls in September; Dodge predicts healthy 2015

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Sign up now for November 20 AGC/AIA/CMD (formerly Reed) webinar.

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 214,000, seasonally adjusted, in October and 2,804,000 (1.9%) over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported last Friday. Construction employment increased by 12,000 for the month and 231,000 (3.9%) over the year to 6,095,000, the highest total since May 2009. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) climbed by 8,000 for the month and 130,600 (6.0%) for the year. Nonresidential employment (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) increased by 3,600 in October and 99,800 (2.7%) year-over-year.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: November 3-7, 2014

A recent article in Equipment World called Eyes in the Sky: How drones and UAVs are already affecting construction jobsites is very revealing.  For those of us who built and flew model airplanes in our teen years, this new grown-up sophisticated model aircraft can be fun to fly, but more important, it has already proven its value by flying where no man or woman can go with survey crews, inspection teams, flying over toxic sites, pipelines and even nuclear disasters.

The article highlights the various models of drones being experimented with by three different companies.

First, Richard Evans of SpawGlass called the “Tinkerer” by the author, because he grew up building and flying model airplanes.  Today he uses drones to inspect and fly construction sites At SpawGlass in Houston.   Read more » about Drones Flying on to Construction Sites

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