A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Committed To Growing Houston’s Construction Workforce

Editor’s note: The following was originally published in Cornerstone, the quarterly magazine of AGC Houston.  Reprinted with permission.

This December will mark the fifth anniversary of the discussions that evolved into what is now the Construction Career Collaborative (C3).  While there was a general consensus that a future workforce problem was real, creating a viable plan with an industry as diverse as construction raised many red flags.  Needless to say, there was a good deal of skepticism all around from the very start.  Fueling the skepticism was the simple fact that in late 2009, companies had more important issues to worry about than a future workforce shortage.  Most firms were working on their own work shortage at that time.

Fortunately, the resolve for a long-term sustainable workforce kept the process moving forward.

As has been announced and reported throughout 2014, significant milestones have been achieved by the fledgling organization.  In addition to hiring its first executive director and being recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3, C3 has seen the interest of owners and contractors continue to grow.  This past summer the Texas Children’s Hospital, Woodlands Campus became the first official C3 project.  AGC Houston member and C3 contractor Tellepsen will be leading the effort.  In addition, W.S. Bellows Construction Corporation is renovating the 18th floor of the Texas Children’s Hospital Feigin Center, another C3 project.

The recent launch by the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) of UpSkill Houston, a comprehensive initiative “to build a quality workforce that meets employers’ needs and ensures that Houstonians have the skills and opportunities to enter the workforce and build successful careers”, creates even greater opportunities for C3.  The Partnership’s plan focuses on the critical workforce needs of seven key industries: Advanced Manufacturing, Construction, Healthcare, Oil and Gas, Petrochemical, Ports and Maritime, and Utilities.  With a solid organization in place, C3 is positioned to play a significant role in meeting the charge of UpSkill Houston.

Having been a part of the Partnership’s Workforce Development Task Force this past year, one thing became very clear – all seven sector councils are very serious about meeting the workforce needs in their respective industries.  Discussions among C3 board members, committee members, and interested parties reflect that seriousness in the desire for C3 to be an active part of the construction sector council.  AGC Houston will continue to play a key leadership role with GHP with the appointment of AGC Chairman Steve Mechler and Laura Bellows who were asked to co-chair the council.

I don’t know how many times it has been said over the past five years, but someone often mentions that “we did not get into this workforce mess overnight, and it will take years to turn it around”.  That may be the case, but with the commitment of the GHP, C3, and all those committed to creating careers and not just jobs, it may not be as long as we all think.

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