A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Graduation Day

Graduation ceremonies are interesting.  They are celebrations, “crossing of the bar,” successful completions.  Not only are they completions, but they are new beginnings.  Graduation ceremonies mark significant milestones in our lives and in our industry.

Recently we attended, along with leaders from the industry, family members, company coaches and leaders, the graduation of 16 “helpers” at The Marek Company’s Houston office.  These individuals had completed the 2,000 hours of jobsite work as well as a year long series of safety, equipment and on-the-job training courses designed to teach them the industry and the craft that they have chosen as a career.

We have written about the Marek Company several times for their outstanding commitment to a sustainable workforce for the future and for their commitment to a structured workforce development program.  They truly understand the importance of having highly skilled craft professionals who can deliver safe high quality construction on their jobs.  This graduation celebration was an illustration of that commitment and their understanding that these professionals will be the future of their company.

This group of 16 graduates was mentored through the year by coaches who guided them onto their career path and on this, the first step toward a lifelong career in the construction industry.  Their backgrounds were varied.  They were college grads, high school grads and individuals who have chosen careers in the construction industry in order to make a living for themselves and for their families.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Ed Prevatt, the Director of Workforce Development for the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).  He travels around the country to support construction industry education programs.  His message was clear, that only 10% of the construction workforce receives formal craft training and the other 90% only get “on-the-job training”.  That put these grads in a very small class of peers in the industry.  He went on to say that cultures are known by what they build.  He pointed out that these grads had chosen a position in an industry that was a career and not just a job and one that they and their families could be proud of.  He closed by saying that in the construction industry, We build tomorrow’s history.

These are the foreman, supervisors and industry leaders of the future.  As they walked up to accept their awards that included tool bags and gift certificates, I saw the sense of accomplishment on their faces that will be repeated as they successfully complete projects and as they move up that career ladder in the industry of the future.

This was just an example of graduations being held by responsible companies around the country.  If you know of similar companies who are helping build the workforce of today and tomorrow let us know.

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