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?

Once when I was a kid, my parents had a truckload of dirt dumped onto our driveway.  Their intent, and the eventual result, was that the dirt was to be used to level the low spots in our lawn.  However, the immediate response to that glorious pile of dirt was that for a few weeks it became the greatest kid hangout on our block.  The neighborhood kids brought over their toy cars and trucks (both Matchbox and Tonka), and together we built the most amazing “city” complete with roads, tunnels, and bridges.

Now lucky kids and their parents will be able to drive and to dig with actual construction equipment at the first construction-themed amusement park to open in the United States.  Diggerland USA is scheduled to open on Saturday, June 14 in the township of West Berlin, New Jersey, just a short drive from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Read more » about Diggerland USA Lets Kids Play on Real Construction Equipment

Summer has arrived, and enthusiastic high school and college students are looking for summer internships.

Internships are not a problem if you are paying interns at least minimum wage, and are paying overtime hours (any hours worked over 40 in a work week) at one and one-half times their regular wage rate.

If you are considering unpaid internships, however, you may be exposing your company to a lawsuit.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, if you allow a person to perform services for you, in most instances that person must be paid and will be subject to minimum wage and overtime requirements.  There is a narrow exception for true unpaid internships, which must meet the following six criteria:   Read more » about Beware of Unpaid Internships

Memorial Day prompts reflection and appropriately so. We must never forget all of those who gave their lives for our freedom, whether in the two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf or in the fighting that continues today. To paraphrase, Winston Churchill, “Never has so much been owed by so many to so few.”

This day also prompts homage to those who returned, those heroes who then turned their talents and patriotism to making this country the great nation that it is. One group that deserves our continuous study and emulation is the veterans of World War II, that special group of men and women heralded in Tom Brokaw’s marvelous book, The Greatest Generation. Brokaw wrote this book as a tribute to his father and his buddies, all World War II vets. It is a compelling story, which every American can benefit from reading. He eloquently conveys how this group came back, and although they were owed so much, they never wanted to do anything but continue to serve and give in their companies, their communities and their country. The leaders, both officers and enlisted, went on to start and head companies, to build America into a great industrial economy, while at the same time ensuring that the men and women who had served and supported them in wartime had decent jobs in peacetime, jobs that could allow them to feed their families and realize the American Dream.   Read more » about Lessons from the Greatest Generation: They are so Relevant Today

Earlier this spring I attended an open house at the new Performance Verification Center in La Porte, Texas.  The Center has been created by ABC Houston and the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) to provide hands-on evaluation of craft performance skills by certified Performance Evaluators as part of the accreditation process of students and trainees.

Glen O’Mary, Director of Education for the ABC/CMEF Performance Verification Center, joined the staff this February, but has been working in the construction and maintenance industry for 14 years, so he knows many of the people associated with this organization.  He is excited to be a part of CMEF, which you can hear in the following 3-minute video interview.  He says,

“We need a trained and competent workforce.  Everybody here is willing to get their hands dirty – literally – to support the cause and do this.  We are providing a future for families and giving somebody a chance at a life that they may not have had an opportunity to have in the past.  Why I am so close to this is it is helping people change their lives – to become something better.  That’s why my heart is in it so much.”   Read more » about Video Interviews with Some of the Instructors and Staff at the CMEF Performance Verification Center

The Associated General Contractors of America is working through its local chapters to find ways to address the catch-22 of older workers retiring while fewer graduating students are entering the industry.  AGC is starting chartered schools to teach interested kids about the construction industry.

They have partnered to establish charter schools such as the ACE Leadership High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico; OBC Academy for Architecture, Construction and Engineering in Portland, Oregon; Construction Careers Center in St. Louis, Missouri; and Academy of Career Education in Sparks, Nevada.

Recently, AGC economist Ken Simonson spoke to the Denver Chapter of AGC.  In pointing out the looming shortages, he pointed to the recently published AGC report Preparing the Next Generation of Skilled Construction Workers: a Workforce Development Plan for the 21st Century.  The plan outlines what federal, state and local officials can do to create construction training programs and fill the pipeline for jobs.

An article in the Denver Business Journal by Cathy Proctor outlines some key points from the AGC report:   Read more » about Solving the Skilled Worker Shortage in Construction

381 Companies Engage Thousands of Georgia Students

Charles Crosby owns his own construction company in Atlanta.  Every year he carves out three full days to volunteer for the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) CareerExpo and SkillsUSA State Championships.

He is one of more than 1,000 industry volunteers who make the event happen.  This year, he decided to do a little something extra.  He reached out to a middle school in his own community – Sandy Springs – and invited them to the event.  His extra work paid off.  Sandy Springs Charter Middle showed up with a busload of 44 students.   Read more » about Record Turnout at Tenth Annual CEFGA CareerExpo, SkillsUSA Event [VIDEO]

As many of you are aware, Construction Career Collaborative, also known as C3, was founded because several leaders in the commercial construction industry decided to step forward and address the huge problem that exists in our industry of an unsustainable workforce.  In other words, more people are leaving the industry than joining it.  In fact, the average age of a craft worker entering the industry is 29, and the average age of all craft workers is 47, with many expected to retire in the next several years.

One may ask, “How did we get into this mess?”  The answer is not a simple one.  In fact, it is quite complex.  As one construction executive told me recently, “It has many tentacles.”  So what are the causes of this complex problem?

  • Misclassification of craft workers as subcontractors, thereby avoiding the payment of Social Security, federal, and state unemployment taxes in an effort to gain a competitive advantage by reducing cost illegally.

  Read more » about Observations From My First 90 Days at C3

If you are a skilled crafts worker in the construction industry, boy do we have good news for you.  Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC America, recently spoke to the Denver AGC at the Denver Union Station about the looming labor shortages in the construction industry.  Cathy Proctor, a reporter for the Denver Business Journal, reported on the Simonson speech in which he said, “Two-thirds of the nation’s construction firms say they are having trouble finding people.”  Additionally he went on to say, “About 79 percent of the firms say they expect construction worker shortages will continue or get worse in 2014.”

In Colorado, one of the top 10 metros, there will be a need to add another 5,000 construction workers this year alone according to Michael Gifford, the president and CEO of AGC Colorado.

That bodes well for those looking for construction jobs, but Simonson said again as he has in his other speeches that during the recession, the industry lost over 800,000 jobs and workers.   Read more » about Denver and the Rest of the Country Having Labor Pains