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?

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

The following article originally appeared in the June newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

These are the times that will test.

These are times of great opportunity; they are also times of great challenge.  It is crystal clear, as we approach the mid-point of 2014, that the shortage of talent, predicted for many months, is finally here and affecting most constructions companies, both General and Specialty Contractors, across all classifications of employees: craft workers to executives.  The War for Talent has escalated, and reportedly even reached the “armed” level.  Pistol-packing security guards have been placed on residential projects to stop labor brokers from walking on jobs, adding an attractive premium to the per-foot wage of piece rate workers, and taking the entire crew with them that moment!

This shortage, in the short haul, can only worsen, as the large industrial projects get underway.  It is going to cause contractors, who were starving for work 24 months ago, to face the difficult decision to turn work down, or potentially violate or ignore some key values of their strong cultures, as it relates to people.  All successful construction companies have strong cultures, 90% of it built around the people they want on their team and the way people in their company will be treated.   Read more » about Are You Committed to Your Culture?

On May 29, 2014, I had the opportunity to be on the Louisiana Business and Industry Show to discuss the skilled labor market challenges and the tools available to more effectively plan project labor and manage project labor risk.

We discussed the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) efforts to aggressively address this growing challenge and how the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA®) is using collaborative technology to assist.  This remarkable tool is helping owners, contractors, unions and other industry stakeholders dynamically understand the skilled labor market in a collaborative environment and more effectively know how to employ risk mitigation strategies.  As stated by Tim Johnson, the show’s host, the CLMA® is aligned with CURT and is a first-of-its-kind tool that provides skilled labor imbalance projections dynamically.   Read more » about Interview on the Louisiana Business and Industry Show [VIDEO]

Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), a training affiliate of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, honored 44 graduates in millwright, instrumentation, pipefitting, industrial painting and sheet metal at a graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 5.  More than 200 people, including graduates, guests, instructors, managers, and industrial owners filled the banquet hall to applaud the students’ accomplishments.

Ceremony guest speakers offered industry advice, but also praised the students in their career choice. Pat Kiley of Kiley Advisors said, “Every facet of construction is on fire,” when he referred to the volume of career options these graduates have before them.   Read more » about CMEF Honors 44 Graduates with a Graduation Ceremony

According to the NBC Nightly News, a recent report by the global search firm ManpowerGroup shows that skilled labor jobs are the hardest to fill both in the US and around the globe.  Projections, as we have discussed, show that the supply will shrink for the foreseeable future as the demand increases in the current construction recovery.

While that is good news for the existing workers looking for jobs around the US and the globe, owners, contractors and subcontractors will be scrambling to keep their top folks and frantically searching for additional workers.  That will likely put pressure on labor rates and construction costs as well.

According to the NBC report:

“Four in 10 American employers are struggling to fill open positions, according to the annual Talent Shortage Survey by human resources firm Manpower.

For the fifth consecutive year, the jobs that are hardest to fill fall into the category of skilled trades, which covers manufacturing, construction and other positions that require professional training or apprenticeship.   Read more » about Forty Percent of Firms Report Trouble Filling Skilled Labor Jobs