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?

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 MarekBros.com.

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

Now that the Texas Legislature is taking a hard look at the way education reforms are being implemented across the state, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my recent experience traveling to Austin to talk with the State Board of Education about this important issue.  As you might have heard, lawmakers passed a reform bill last year that created more flexibility for students who are trying to get a high school diploma in Texas.  Those of us in the trades, like construction, have been very supportive of this for two main reasons: we want to see as many young people succeed as possible, and we feel there’s a career for many of them in our industries.

When I went to Austin to give public testimony on behalf of our education partner, NCCER, I understood that my goal was to provide an employer’s perspective of the relevance and rigor we find within the NCCER curricula and why we think utilizing industry standard curricula would give high school students an advantage in the work place.   Read more » about Give Education Reform in Texas a Chance to Work

A Texas House Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue of worker misclassification and what more the state may need to do to combat the problem that is particularly rampant in the construction industry.  The House Business and Industry Committee will take testimony on the implementation of a limited crackdown that was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry last year.  The hearing is slated for Tuesday, April 22 at the state capitol.

The official announcement of the public hearing says that the panel of lawmakers will be looking into “the issue of misclassifying employees as independent contractors on workers, employers, income tax withholding, and the unemployment insurance system.  And the review of current statutory deterrents, including those required by HB 2015.”  That bill just took effect on the first of this year.

As our readers are well aware, the practice of employee misclassification happens when companies pretend their workers are independent subcontractors when, by law, those workers should be properly classified as employees.   Read more » about Misclassification Hearing is Set in the Texas House

E'hem.  Excuse me for just a moment, but I have to toot the horn of my good friends at Chamberlin.  These folks sure are making me proud!

In just the last few months, the Chamberlin team has been showered with kudos and awards from the likes of ABC, AGC, ASA, IREM and NRCA.  We have been honored for National Excellence in Construction, National Safety Excellence and Construction Safety Excellence.  Members of the Chamberlin team have been recognized for zero lost work days and named MVP by the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress.  We've been honored for supporting the community at large and for being a player in our industry circle.   Read more » about Bursting with Pride

Originally posted on Marekbros.com.

The Build Your Future (BYF) initiative along with various industry partners are excited to announce that they have teamed up in San Antonio to host a Construction Career Day event on April 9, 2014 at Freeman Coliseum's Expo Hall from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We are anticipating over 600 students from 20 different schools from San Antonio and the surrounding areas, up from last year’s student attendance of around 350. These students will have an opportunity to watch equipment and welding demonstrations, speak with local employers in the construction industry, and visit booths representing various professions in construction.

The goal of this event is to encourage awareness to the different construction trades and lead students into long-term rewarding careers in construction.   Read more » about San Antonio High School Construction Career Expo - April 9, 2014

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