Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

Texas has to grapple with an ever-changing job landscape in ways that its leadership has not previously considered, State Comptroller Susan Combs said in a new report titled Workforce – Capitalizing on our Human Assets.  “Before the skills gap gets to a breaking point, it is important that we realize today’s best jobs require ever-increasing levels of specialized knowledge and technical expertise,” Combs said.

The retiring comptroller, who opted not to seek reelection, says lawmakers need to tackle several issues including increased funding for adult education programs, multimedia information campaigns to promote industry-based certification, and economic incentives for companies to create apprenticeship programs.

In her report, Combs said that “unskilled” jobs are becoming a thing of the past, and the workers of today need to be able to be adaptable to the point that they are lifelong learners.   Read more » about Texas Comptroller Pushes for More Job Training Programs

The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) continues to build momentum as evidenced by two recent occurrences, starting with the announcement that Texas Children’s Hospital has specified that its new TCH-The Woodlands Campus and TCH-Feigin Center 18th Floor OB/GYN Renovation will be C3 projects.  This means that all contractors working on them – every General Contractor and every Specialty Contractor – must be an Accredited C3 Employer or have received C3 Project Status designation (formerly called Conditional Status).  Not only is this a big win for craft workers, C3, and a sustainable construction workforce, but contractors have also told me that it is a win for them as well because it ensures a level playing field for all when competing for work.   Read more » about Gathering C3 Momentum

After successfully pushing for them in Austin, the Workers Defense Project is asking the City of Dallas to adopt an ordinance that would require contractors to give water breaks to construction workers.  It sounds like something that everyone should simply agree with but, as is often the case, the details are where the devil may reside.  Certainly no one would argue that workers should be denied water breaks.  Industry observers, however, have said that the enactment of an ordinance can open up the possibility that well-meaning businesses may be easily harassed by way of false reports.

Fox television in Dallas reports Workers Defense wants Big D to follow the lead of Austin and several other cities that have done something similar:   Read more » about A Push for Mandatory Water Breaks for Construction Workers in Dallas

The following article was written by Marek Division Manager Sumner Hunter and was originally published on MarekBros.com.

Why are residential drywall companies like comedian Rodney Dangerfield? Because sometimes we get “no respect at all”. I have often wondered why it is that many homebuilders seem to think that almost anybody can do residential drywall. Over the years, I have seen several people go into the drywall business. They usually don’t have much money, credit, references, or business experience. Despite this, many homebuilders give work to these new start-ups without hesitation. I doubt they would do the same thing with their electrician or plumber. But we are not a licensed trade, at least in Texas, and there are very few entry barriers, so almost anyone can go into the drywall business. Why aren’t builders more afraid of these new guys? Is it just because they are cheaper?

I think part of the answer lies in the fact that homebuilders use less qualified contractors and don’t suffer negative consequences, at least not immediately. It’s not that hard to close a house with inferior drywall work. Many drywall problems are not noticed, or do not show up, until after the buyer has already moved into their new home. After buying a new home, it took me more than 2 months to notice serious flaws in the drywall job (see pictures below), and I’m in the business. It may take a while to notice these problems, but once the homeowner begins to see visible joints, fastener dimples, and mismatched repairs, he will continue to see them every time he walks into the room.   Read more » about No Respect

The following article by Nory Angel, executive director of SER-Jobs for Progress, was originally published in the Houston Chronicle.  Reprinted with permission.

The Greater Houston Partnership recently launched UPSkill Houston: a much-needed initiative to address the worker shortage this region is facing.  At a time when baby boomers are reaching the age of retirement and our local economy is heating up, this is creating a perfect storm of opportunity for our local workforce.  Unfortunately, our region's workforce is not yet positioned to meet this challenge.

Through my work at SER-Jobs for Progress – a community-based nonprofit agency which for the past 50 years has focused on developing low-income, minority workers for in-demand jobs – it has become evident that until we address certain systemic and individual issues head-on, our region will continue to flounder in our efforts to have a well-aligned worker pipeline.   Read more » about Businesses Need to Think Long-Term, Invest in Low-Income Youth

Two performance evaluators at Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) enhanced their skills by adding another certification to their credentials.

CMEF Performance Evaluators Richard Bolt and Zachary Burgoon both obtained new certifications illustrating CMEF’s commitment to safe practices and training knowledge in an ever evolving industry.  Bolt and Burgoon keep abreast of the latest technological advances and regulatory activities affecting the industry, and have committed to ongoing education in order to maintain their certification.  Because safety regulations and industry standards are continually changing, the ongoing education requirement is vital to maintaining a legitimate training program.   Read more » about Performance Evaluators Broaden Their Skills

Amid the chaos in Congress and the humanitarian crisis on the Texas-Mexico border, construction executives from the Lone Star State traveled to the White House this past week to urge President Barack Obama to be smart about any executive action he might take to address longstanding challenges in immigration policy.

Their message to top administration officials was that it would be preferable for Congress to pass legislation on the issue.  But in the absence of that – and seeing no evidence that the US House will act – the Republican businessmen from Texas would be okay with an executive order from the Democratic president allowing for millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States as long as they can pass a background check, are identified, and taxed.  As envisioned, this would amount to an expansion of the president’s controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.  That executive action, as you may be aware, puts deportations on hold for two years for young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.  Those waivers are renewable.

Houston construction executives Stan Marek and Gregg Reyes, along with immigration attorney Beto Cardenas, met late Friday with Obama senior advisers Cecilia Munoz and Valerie Jarrett to talk about what might happen next as the administration grapples with immigration policy.   Read more » about Texas Construction Executives Press the White House on Immigration Reform

The following is excerpted from an article by Ulf Wolf which was originally published in Construction Dimensions, a monthly publication by the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.  Reprinted with permission.

You find yourself underbid by 30 percent.

The contractor in question swears on a stack of Bibles that all of his labor is legal and documented and that he, as required by law, pays payroll tax and workers’ comp for all of his crew just like everybody else (all the while his nose grows faster and longer than Pinocchio’s ever did).

Meanwhile, the general contractor has a complicated job to get done and may be unaware of any violations on his job site (or he may look the other way) while the owner – well, the owner doesn’t really want to be bothered with “details.”   Read more » about Immigration Reform and the Shadow Economy

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