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?

The state of the construction workforce and a possible solution

Editor’s note: The following article by Jim Stevenson was written for the McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. newsletter.  Reprinted with permission.

In December 2009, a small group at the Houston Associated General Contractors held its first discussion about developing the craft workforce needed for the commercial construction industry to effectively perform future work in Houston.  Since then, seven task forces and more than 50 volunteers have worked diligently on developing a long-term vision for creating a sustainable craft workforce.  Owners, contractors and specialty contractors have committed to three principles – competitive wages and benefits, safety training, and craft training – as absolutely necessary to attract, train and retain a verifiably qualified workforce.  Read more » about The Texas Craft Workforce Shortage

Editor’s note:  The original version of this article written by Matthew Waller was published in the San Angelo Standard‑Times and other newspapers across Texas from the Scripps Howard Newspapers Group.  Reprinted with permission.

Griffin Kent isn’t entirely sure what course he wants his high school education to take.  Whatever he decides, he has choices – ones that could put him on a concrete path to a career.

The eighth-grader at San Angelo’s Lee Middle School said he is leaning toward engineering, maybe mechanical or civil, but he wants to look around first.

“It’s a little overwhelming, but at the same time it’s very exciting,” Kent said.  “Right now I’m still exploring.” Read more » about Education Reforms Point to Jobs

Mike Holland wrote that 26 years ago, in response to the ongoing struggle for an adequate craft workforce, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston (ABC) and the Houston Business Roundtable established the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF).  CMEF was created to use owner-allocated funds for craft certification, assessment, and training of the workers needed by first the industrial and now also the commercial construction industry.  This spring, ABC Houston and CMEF unveiled their new Performance Verification Center   Read more » about Performance Verification Center for Skilled Crafts Certification Unveiled in Houston Area

In a marathon hearing held by Texas lawmakers on the issues of workers’ compensation and worker misclassification, representatives from businesses and labor came together to talk about what could be done to level the playing field for ethical companies and improve the lives of middle-class Texans.  But, there was also significant pushback from certain business interests which would like to keep things as they are.

The House Business and Industry Committee listened to about six hours of testimony on both issues, which some would argue are inextricably linked.  The House is holding hearings on various issues right now in preparation for the next regular legislative session, which will begin in January of 2015.  The point is to help shape whatever legislation might be filed next year.   Read more » about Texas House Hearing Could Signal Big Changes Ahead for Misclassification and Workers' Comp

Another industry group is entering the private exchange game to deal with the complexities of the Affordable Care Act.  The Wichita Business Journal has noted that the Associated General Contractors of America and Willis North America, the global risk advisor, are developing a private exchange to offer defined contribution plans to companies in the industry who are working to comply with the fluid requirements of the ACA or Obamacare.

According to the announcement, “The AGC Alternative”, as it is currently named, will offer its members health benefits or employees at a lower cost, and they will incur less administrative costs as well.   Read more » about AGC and Willis Team to Provide a Private Exchange to Deal with Obamacare

Workers who have been cheated out of their wages by unscrupulous employers in Houston are fighting back now that they have the tools to do so under the city's new wage theft ordinance. The city has received its first official complaints under the new law from some workers who say they were not receiving overtime pay that they are owed.

Via the Houston Chroncle's Lomi Kriel:

“Thirteen workers on Tuesday filed the first complaint under a new Houston ordinance aimed at preventing companies from stealing workers' wages.

“The workers, with the assistance of the nonprofit Faith and Justice Worker Center, filed documents with the city's inspector general alleging that their employer, Bradley Demolition and Construction, refused to pay them overtime. They say the company also failed to provide tax forms.   Read more » about First Wage Theft Complaints Filed Under Houston's New Law

Originally posted on

Marek’s Atlanta Branch sponsored and participated in the annual CEFGA Career Expo and Skills USA State Championship on March 13th-14th. This event is regarded as one of the nation’s top construction and SkillsUSA events and had 7212 students in attendance this year.

The Career Expo is Georgia’s largest interactive career exploration event and is designed for middle, high and technical college students. Thousands of students interested in the construction industry were able to experience different industry trades hands on.   Read more » about Marek and CEFGA Working to Recruit the Next Generation into the Industry

Editor’s note:  The following was written by Saied Alavi, Division Operations Manager at Marek Brothers in Houston.

In my business today, as in the great building traditions of the past, skilled well-trained crafts people are our most important and valuable asset.  From the hundreds who make up our field employees to the estimating and administrative teams who support them, from the youngest trainee and intern to the most senior supervisor – each one is critical to the delivery of our craft at Marek.

On any day, you can pick up the phone and order a hundred new screw guns or chop saws and receive delivery in a day or two.  You can place an order for truckloads of gypsum board or metal studs and receive delivery in a few days.  However, if you need ten experienced drywall or acoustical ceiling mechanics, there is no guarantee that you can find them in a week or even a month.  And finding skilled workers is becoming more of a daily problem as the economy recovers and construction expands again.   Read more » about Investing in an Educated Workforce: A Winning Combination