The construction workforce is one that is constantly changing, whether the stats go up or down. Nearly two-thirds of contractors are highly confident that demand for construction projects will increase over the next year. However, as labor concerns, budgeting, and the need to increase productivity weigh on the industry, there is a support needed to solve these problems.1 The demand for quality skilled craft professionals is critical, and associations including Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are striving to ensure workers are taught skills using standards-based curriculum from the beginning.
“I think a workforce strategy that focuses on building partnerships with community support organizations who can provide services for potential workers as well as services that contractors might not have in house has proven quite successful,” said Mike Holland, Chief Operating Officer at MAREK. “ABC members including S&B Engineers and Constructors, TDIndustries, Trio Electric, and MAREK have all engaged in such practices. There are benefits in employee recruiting, training, and retention.”
Some of the workforce labor issues stem from problems with training in open shop construction. In 1995, ABC partnered with over one-hundred leading construction companies, manufacturers, and academia to establish a quality standard for training and certification in various sectors of the construction industry.2 These efforts resulted in the establishment of a nonprofit education foundation, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), with the intention to address the current workforce shortage facing our industry and to build awareness of rewarding construction career opportunities for the future.
NCCER is an education foundation that works with associations and academic leaders to provide standardized training and credentialing programs for the construction industry. This progressive grogram has evolved into curricula for more than seventy craft areas and a complete series of more than seventy assessments offered in over four thousand NCCER-accredited training and assessment location across the United States, one of which is at Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) in La Porte.3
“The thing that sets NCCER apart from any other author is that NCCER was created for the industry, by the industry,” said Katrina Kersch, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Director at NCCER. “We hold true to the commitment to provide best-in-class, standards-based curriculum that provides not just instructional materials, but career path guidance for the craft professional. In addition, NCCER offers accreditation and program management for associations and contractors who recognize that they must invest in their workforce to remain in business. A student in an NCCER craft training program benefits by learning from the best and most talented in the industry. Students are exposed to information about the construction industry and gain a deeper understanding about how they might use the knowledge and skills they acquire to advance their careers. NCCER’s approach to training and development also includes providing workforce development resources and support.”
In addition to its partnership with NCCER, Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston (ABC) is working with its almost five hundred member companies to encourage safety training, OSHA certification, management, and leadership preparation programs. Together with associations including the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) and Construction Career Collaborative (C3), ABC is working to advance the financial security, safety, health, and well-being of the construction craft workforce.
“There is no debating the fact that our industry is facing a potential workforce shortage,” said Stephen Hillier, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Construction, Maintenance, and Turnarounds at JACOBS. “At JACOBS, our efforts are not to change the industry’s image but rather to inform people of the opportunity for rewarding high-skill, high-wage careers with clear paths for advancement that our industry affords. Key messages around diversity, safety, and building a lasting legacy are moving us toward an inclusive and sustainable workforce.”
The construction workforce will continue to change, but companies can influence the incoming workers by continuing to educate, train, and lead. And with the help of associations including Associated Builders and Contractors, these companies could see a growth in the safety and knowledge of their employees, as well as a growth in the overall workforce.
1. Persistent Workforce Shortages Challenge Commercial Construction Industry as U.S. Building Demands Continue to Grow. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. March 6, 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/persistent-workforce-shortages-challenge-commercial-construction-industry-us-building
2. Whyte, Don & Greene, Steve. The Skilled Workforce Shortage. The National Center for Construction Education & Research. Retrieved from: https://www.nccer.org/docs/default-source/pdfs/skilledworkforcecrisis
3. The National Center for Construction Education & Research. Retrieved from: https://www.nccer.org/about-us
Harrell, Lauren. Reprinted from BuildHoustonOnline.com, October 18, 2018, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.