A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

As the economy and the construction industry begin to recover, it is highly likely that we will experience a severe shortage of skilled workers.  In fact, even in a depressed market, many employers struggle to find qualified craft professionals.  With the average age of the craft professional approaching 50, and the projection that 20% of the construction workforce will retire in the next 2-4 years, the time for action is now.Employers should be readying their workforce for the upturn by focusing on the needs of their incumbent workers.  As recovery begins, attracting young new entrants and providing training for their employees will be a must for any successful contractor, but plans for accomplishing this should be made now.  
Don Whyte's picture
April 07, 2011
Last week the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Business & Industry heard testimony in Austin relating to House Bill 2989 which would establish the Workplace Fraud Prevention Act (WFPA) in Texas.   The bill speaks directly to the construction industry and attempts to define what an employee in the construction industry is in order to curtail the rampant misclassification of employees as independent contractors in the state.State Representative Joseph Deshotel, who chairs the committee, is sponsoring the bill, and introduced it that day before the committee.
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
April 05, 2011
Randy Travis, no not the Grammy-winner in country music (whose dad, by the way, ran a construction business), the investigative reporter from Fox 5 in Atlanta, has been doing a series of investigations into the use of illegal workers and subsequent wage theft issue that arise when those workers are not paid.  In the latest episode, he interviewed the owners of Perez Masonry in Atlanta.The company is owned by two brothers who are both illegal immigrants, yet they just worked on a military project in Atlanta where they were “sub-subs” to a specialty contractor that they now claim has not paid them for their work.  In the video report, Travis asks:“How could this happen?  After all, under Georgia law, any public contractor has to check
Jim Kollaer's picture
April 03, 2011
Construction site risks can come from many directions.  A worker twists his back while unloading a dolly of sheetrock.  A new employee misses a briefing on PPE (Personal...
Stacy Gunderson's picture
March 31, 2011
As a workforce development professional in the construction industry, I am always excited to hear about new initiatives that support the skilled trades.In 2009, Senator Wendell Mitchell and Senator Del Marsh co-sponsored Act 220 in the Alabama legislature that resulted in the creation of the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute.  The creation of the ACRI is significant for a couple of reasons.  It is funded through a fee levied on employers based on wages paid to skilled construction workers on commercial and industrial jobs across the state, and it represents a united effort from the private and public sector.The ACRI’s Go Build Alabama campaign is a full out effort to inform and educate the citizens of Alabama about the opportunities for great careers in construction.  The campaign kicked off on Labor Day of 2010 and featured spokesperson Mike Rowe who is the creator, executive producer and host of the popular Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs.  The Go Build Alabama website offers information on the industry outlook, profiles of the various trades, links to training and apprenticeship opportunities, and a sign up page where readers can get assistance in navigating entry into the construction industry.
Katrina Kersch's picture
March 29, 2011
This recent commentary in Bloomberg brings up an interesting point about the role of the Yakuza or Japanese mafia in the reconstruction of the earthquake damaged parts of Japan.  Because of the need for construction to get underway as soon as possible, some think that the Yakuza will take advantage of the situation and become more deeply involved in the construction industry again.  They have been banned from several projects in the country and the government is trying to distance themselves from the crime organizations, but that might be hard to do in the light of the massive destruction caused by the earthquake.This article brings up a major question in my mind.  We know that there is a history of crime involvement in the construction industry in the US that extends back into the 1800s.  Stories of links between organized crime and the unions is the stuff of novels.The question that I am wondering about is the involvement of the Mexican cartels in the construction industry in the US today.
Jim Kollaer's picture
March 27, 2011
This morning a group of construction workers and supporters of the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center held a protest across from the site of a new discount store to demand justice for nine workers who are owed more than $16,000 in unpaid wages by their employer, subcontractor Carole Johnson Builders LLC and the general contractor on the project, Williams Development and Construction Inc.  Fifteen workers who did interior construction work on the building were not paid for all of the hours they worked during January and February of this year.  
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
March 24, 2011
In the mid 80s the economy was so bad in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction and Real Estate worlds that we started to give slogans for each year to provide a little...
Jim Kollaer's picture
March 23, 2011
How do we overcome the stereotypes that many younger students have about the construction industry?  There is definitely an image issue that the construction industry is...
Stacy Gunderson's picture
March 18, 2011
Today is St. Patrick’s Day and spring starts officially next week.  Both of those dates are signaling the start of the construction season for 2011.  Sure, there is snow on the ground in parts of the country, but already daylight savings has started in a number of states and the temperatures in the south are in the 70s and 80s.What are some of the other signs that spring is here?  Besides the big blue jay sitting outside the window and the robins in the yard, several economists in the industry have recently stated that we are in a Design Recovery period in that the design firm indexes are indicating that their business is improving, certainly not to the levels of 2006-07, but improving nonetheless.
Jim Kollaer's picture
March 17, 2011