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 Austin School Board recently voted to adopt Davis-Bacon federal wage rates on construction of facilities under the district's new $490 million bond package.  While some have hailed this as a historic step, it is seen by many as merely a short-term fix for attracting workers into the skilled trades.  In short: more needs to be done.

After a hot debate, the board narrowly voted 5 to 4 to adopt Davis-Bacon wage rates. The crowd in the board room erupted into applause.  It's good news for some, but not for all.  As public radio in Austin pointed out, pay will go up for those in trades like electricians and security technicians, but others like general laborers will actually see their wages go down to the point where they will be earning less than $8 an hour.

Trustee Cheryl Bradley joined with three others in voting against Davis-Bacon wage rates, arguing that it made no sense.  “You’re not going to be buying food for your family on $7.75 an hour,” Bradley said.  “You’re not going to be paying rent.  You will be on government subsidy.”   Read more » about Austin School District Should Follow Houston ISD’s Progress on Construction Jobs

The Construction Citizen team has been tracking the progress of worker misclassification laws across the country, including the newly minted crackdown in Tennessee.  Elizabeth McPherson wrote about that when it was first passed last year.  Now we get word out of Nashville that a drywall contractor based in Music City has agreed to pay more than $300,000 in penalties for understating his payroll and misclassifying workers to avoid paying the required taxes and workers compensation insurance.   Read more » about Tennessee’s Worker Misclassification Crackdown is Already Making a Difference

“What If?”

What if your construction company had the opportunity to secure K-12 construction work with the largest school district in the State of Texas?

What if you had the right crews to bid, win, and execute the work?

What if your craft workers could be safe, make a livable wage, and have the promise of several years of work on your construction jobs?

If you are in the K-12 construction industry in Houston, your “what ifs” could become reality with the Houston Independent School District (HISD) bringing an approved $1.89 billion bond, seven-year construction program to market consisting of 40 schools, three athletic facilities, and numerous renovations.

With all this work in the market, what more could a serious career-minded construction company ask for its workers?   Read more » about HISD’s Labor Compliance Program: Dedicated to Quality

“A global jobs war is coming and there is no time to waste. Cities are crumbling for lack of good jobs. Nations are in revolt because their people can’t get good jobs. The cities and countries that act first—that focus everything they have on creating good jobs—are the ones that will win.”  - Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallup and author of The Coming Jobs War.

Today’s shortage of skilled workers began in the last century when the focus on the need for high tech workers for the new industrial revolution became a vision of everyone getting a four-year college education. Technology was “the answer” and while it has proven a true driver for that sector of the economy, today we still see the shortages that were predicted in the late 90s in the engineering and high tech space. Now we are even seeing calls from many of the super successful entrepreneurs that claim that a college education is unnecessary. They just want to see “your code.” The world has changed. Today, we are in a major jobs shortage in all of the skilled trades, not just in the STEM arena. What happened?

Programs like “No Child Left Behind,” charter schools, STEM programs and magnet schools emerged to meet the need that was being unfulfilled by the public school systems that were essentially “dumbing down” our kids to the lowest common denominator of education, while simultaneously shouting that every child should go to college if they were to be successful in the “new economy.”    Read more » about Wake Up Call for Cities

Editor's note: The following article was originally posted on the blog.

Power tools are used daily in our line of work; we use them to cut metal, secure fasteners, and shape materials. Knowing how to identify and use power tools safely and correctly is very important to our trade. That is why it is a valuable and necessary part of our Workforce Development Program.

On Tuesday May 6th, our Marek Austin apprentices who have been studying the NCCER Core Curriculum Introduction to Power Tools Module did a performance test on their usage and knowledge of the tools. The types of tools that are studied in this module are electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic. An important aspect of this class is that all apprentices must complete the Basic Safety Module before moving into the power tools section.    Read more » about Marek Austin Apprentices Conduct Performance Test on Their Usage and Knowledge of Power Tools

On a sunny morning this spring, I stopped by the Brittmoore Field Office Trailer to visit with Roberto Sanchez, a project manager from Reytec Construction Resources, about a massive reconstruction project that they are working on.  The project involves installing 5900 feet of new storm sewer, sanitary sewer, and water line underground along Brittmoore Road between Hammerly Road and Clay Road in Houston, Texas.

The scale of the project is impressive.  The diameter of the storm sewer alone begins at seven feet by four feet “boxes” and increases to eight by four feet openings.

On detailed project drawings pinned to the wall of the field office trailer, I could see that Phase One is the part of the project that runs from Hammerly to Kempwood Drive, and Phase Two is the part from Kempwood up to Clay.  As each part is completed, the drawing on the wall is marked in red.  Sanchez pointed out the area where Reytec will hire a specialty subcontractor to dig a 20-foot-deep tunnel and install a casing which will take the new water line under an existing bayou.   Read more » about Inside Look at Featured Craft: Underground Utility Concrete

The Chamberlin Man here.

The most important work we do at Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing is keeping our team safe.  We foster this culture through training, processes, certifications, and real life discussions we call “Safe Performance Self-Assessments.”  Ours is not a policy written down and put in a book on a shelf.  Safety is a living and breathing function of how we approach every. single. thing. we do.

Take a look at this 1½-minute clip of a few fellow Chamberlin Men telling us why safety matters to them.

Without a healthy team we cannot do our work.  Without a diligent focus on safety, the health of our team would be put at risk.  Risk just isn't in our vocabulary.    Read more » about Safety: Every day. All the time. No excuses. [VIDEO]

The following was written by Paul Godwin, BIM Manager at Marek, and was originally posted on

After attending the Spring 2014 BIMFORUM in Boston, it is apparent that there is still an ongoing debate within the industry on how BIM should be used throughout the development of a project. The theme of Optimizing Design with BIM led to a wide variety of presentations that showed how there are very different methods in how BIM is utilized. There were a wide variety of opinions, from including as little usable data as possible within the design phase to that of a full design and collaboration effort. It was a bit disappointing to hear, considering we can no longer say that BIM is a new concept in construction.   Read more » about Spring 2014 BIMFORUM Recap