The Houston Chapter of the American Subcontractor Association (ASA) recently hosted a luncheon panel that focused on the progress of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3), a local organization created to ensure a sustainable workforce for the construction industry. C3 is in its infancy, but has already made an impact on projects in the Houston region. This panel discussion gave an overview of the issues, the progress being made today and the plans for the future.
The panel consisted of Jim Stevenson, the President of McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. in Houston and the current chairman of the C3 Executive Committee; Peter Dawson, the Senior Vice President of Facilities Services at Texas Children’s Hospital and the owner’s representative for one of the C3 pilot projects under construction today; John Roberts, the Executive Vice President of Project and Development Services for Jones Lang LaSalle and member of the C3 Executive Committee; and Danny Thompson, Construction Director of Vaughn Construction and contractor on one of the five C3 pilot projects.
Katrina Kersch, acting Executive Director of C3, moderated the panel. She explained that the metrics being used on the C3 pilot projects were:
1) All workers on the projects be paid a fair wage including overtime.
2) All workers are safety trained including the OSHA 10-hour and the C3 5-hour safety training.
Kersch asked Danny Thompson about the C3 process and its impact on his construction site. He replied that there have been 1,000 workers who have gone through orientation at the site, that 40% have had OSHA 10-hour, 10% have had OSHA 30-hour, but 50% had to be safety trained to work on the site since they had no basic safety training.
In order to perform the wage audits required under the C3 process, Vaughn Construction is conducting random, one-on-one interviews with the workers on the site to ensure they were being paid by the hour and were being paid overtime for their work. The workers, some of whom were skeptical at first about why they were being interviewed about their wages, soon warmed up. They now understand that Vaughn Construction has a high standard which creates a safer, better work environment. The process has created a much friendlier construction site and the additional safety training has minimized downtime for the construction.
Peter Dawson was asked about the importance of this pilot project and the value it brings to the hospital’s programs for children. Dawson explained that the cost of construction amounts to about 10% of the total life cycle cost and that the institutional owners are concerned about doing everything possible to create added value, reduce unsafe construction, reduce re-do work, and create a safe environment on their construction sites. He sees the C3 program as an outstanding next step in the value delivery process at Texas Children’s Hospital and on all other projects that endorse C3. Dawson sees C3 as an investment that will pay big dividends for the owners and users of his facilities over the life of those facilities.
John Roberts told the audience that he has focused on the issue of a sustainable workforce in the construction industry for some time, and he sees C3 as a long-term solution much like LEED programs that have had positive impacts on the sustainable quality of projects around the world. Roberts also talked about the need to create a career process that will reinstill pride in having a career in the construction industry over generations of family members. His opinion is that C3 can help make that a possibility by reinforcing a career track over the next few years.
Jim Stevenson, one of the visionaries for the C3 process, sees a skilled, trained, and verifiable workforce as a goal that is the “right thing to do” for the future of the industry. To achieve this goal, owners will have to drive the process that will require the “buy-in” of contractors and subcontractors at all levels in order to “level the playing field” and create the need for sustainability.
Jim Stevenson also stressed the critical need to move the C3 process forward with plans to move the program into the secondary schools of the region, setting a sound basis for the sustainable workforce of the future.
We were able to interview each of the panelists after the luncheon and those videos can be seen below.