One of the smartest people I know is a Master Plumber who owns a small plumbing company, Two Twigs Enterprises, here in Atlanta. Cary Mandeville is his name. He did some apprenticeship training for our organization early on, and he warned me. He said, “This labor issue is a big boulder that we are going to have to chip away at, piece by piece. The solution will not come quickly.”
For a long time, I stubbornly viewed the skilled labor shortage as a boulder that, with the right leverage, could be pushed, rolled or at least moved within a few years. Eighteen years later, I realize that my plumber friend was right.
I do believe that when a message is true and when it’s one you are supposed to learn, you hear it multiple times.
Mike Kenig is another smart guy I’ve met along the way. He is Vice Chairman of Holder Construction Company, and nationally known for his work in project delivery and lean construction. Recently, Mike has locked in on the skilled labor shortage and how best to address it nationally and at a local level here in Georgia.
He’s already said many times, “We need to celebrate the small victories,” which is another way of saying what my plumber friend said all those years ago.
It’s great advice when you are tackling any large project.
I’m proud to report we are celebrating small victories in construction workforce development here in Georgia.
Our latest small victory is a partnership with the Arthur Blank Family Foundation. Through this new partnership, the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) is operating a workforce development center in downtown Atlanta called Westside Works.
Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank is building a new $1.2 billion, iconic and world class football / soccer stadium. In addition to building a new stadium, he’s made a very public commitment to transform the communities around the stadium site.
The communities, known as Vine City, English Avenue, and Castleberry Hill, have some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the nation. So with construction companies struggling to find good employees, and whole communities struggling to find good employment, CEFGA and the Blank Foundation saw a win-win opportunity.
CEFGA worked with it’s training partner HB NEXT, a group of contractors in Downtown Atlanta, and trade associations like AGC Georgia to develop a construction training program specifically for Westside Works.
The result was a 160-hour, boot-camp style training program that features the NCCER Core Curriculum, Tools for Success, OSHA 10-Hour Training, CPR / First Aid Certification and Soft Skills Training.
I’m proud to report here on Construction Citizen a couple of major small victories!
On July 10, we graduated our first group of construction students from Westside Works. All 14 students in Group #1 earned NCCER credentials, OSHA 10-Hour Certification and CPR / First Aid Certification. Most importantly, they all earned full-time jobs in the construction industry.
On August 15, we graduated Group #2 from Westside Works. They all earned NCCER credentials, OSHA 10, CPR / First Aid Certification, several Hilti Certifications and Forklift Competent Person Certification. Again, most importantly, they all earned full-time jobs in the construction industry.
An article by Maria Saporta in the online publication SaportaReport.com describes the immense impact this program has on those who complete it. Graduate after graduate talk about the second chance in life that they were given with the training and job placement they received through Westside Works.
A special thanks to those companies who hired students from our first two graduating classes at Westside Works:
- Bryson Constructors
- Circle Group
- Cleveland Electric
- Eckardt Electric
- Holder, Hunt, Russell, Moody JV
- Holder Construction Company
- Inglett & Stubbs
- Marek Interior Systems
- New South Construction Company
- Precision Concrete
- Reeves Contracting
- Technique Concrete
If you are doing work in Atlanta and you missed Groups #1 and #2, do not worry. We will be graduating a new group of 14 to 16 students every six weeks. Indeed, as I write this blog, we have a backlog of 60 students waiting to get into the program.
I look forward to keeping Construction Citizen Readers up to speed on this exciting new effort. In the meantime, be sure to celebrate those small workforce development victories in your corner of the World.