A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Remembering the Past and Encouraged for the Future

After more than thirty years in the construction industry, it’s time for me to step aside to make room for the next generation, and I must say I’m encouraged by what I see.

As I look back at my career in the industry, I’ve witnessed a lot of change.  In the 1980s, when I worked for one of the top engineering and construction firms in the nation, we didn’t have recruitment issues.  We had projects valued at more than $500 million with thousands of employees, and when we needed more pipefitters, welders or other craft professionals, we mailed notices to all those in our database who had ever worked for us.  We could expect that within days our employment offices would be full and our project workforce needs met.  During that time, employees went from contractor to contractor depending on where the work was.  The pay and benefits were good and the pool of employees seemed endless.

Fast forward to today, and while pay and benefits have remained steady, the pool of available employees has not.  We have fewer people currently in our industry and even fewer entering the industry.  This is why it’s so important to build relationships between industry and education.  The pipeline of students that existed years ago when vocational programs thrived has since waned over the years.  However, with the renewed focus on career and technical education today (formerly known as vocational education), these programs are gaining ground and, with the proper support from industry, can once again be a strong feeder group for employers.

Another pipeline that exists today is our returning military.  These men and women are a strong fit for construction professions, but we need to streamline the transition process and make it easy for them to enter the industry.  The training and skills they learned while serving our country align closely to construction skills (please see the Military Crosswalk attachment below), and in some cases, require little or no additional training.  Other veterans may require minimal training, which can be accomplished during their last 180 days of service.  In addition to having transferable technical skills, they also have other critical skills that are desirable on projects including dependability, leadership and teamwork, just to name a few.

I’m confident that with new leaders emerging, the work of Build Your Future will continue and surpass what has been accomplished to date.  I’m also confident that the construction industry will step up and embrace this new workforce of tomorrow.

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