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 advice KBR Pipe Supervisor Chris Pullen offers to new craft professionals on the worksite is a testament to his own career.

“Don’t stop.  Don’t give up.  Get the training you can.  Try and learn from everyone around you.”

Pullen applies his own advice during his regimented days, fitting in a work schedule, night classes and family time.  His career goals in the construction industry push him to fill his agenda, even from the very start of his craft profession.  The option to enter the construction industry seemed like the right decision to Pullen.  He says he likes to build things, and the industry presented opportunities for growth.  But at times, his path up the career ladder was a trying trip.   Read more » about CMEF Student Climbs Career Ladder While Offering Good Advice [VIDEO]

The cheaters in construction who all too often get away with avoiding payroll taxes and responsibility for their workers’ injuries are coming under even more scrutiny.  We’ve pointed out the problem for years at Construction Citizen because it is a blight on this industry and a roadblock to improving it for generations to come.

The practice by unscrupulous contractors runs counter to our mission of advancing a socially responsible, sustainable and value-added construction industry.  Misclassification in construction – and other industries as well – leads to the degradation of the employer-employee relationship, turns workers into disposable commodities, cheats taxpayers like you and me out of billions of dollars, and makes it nearly impossible for ethical companies to compete.   Read more » about A Nationwide Spotlight on Worker Misclassification [VIDEO]

Because of an absence of federal action on the problem of rampant worker misclassification in construction, we continue to track the progress of states across the nation that are trying to deal with what's been called “a cancer” in the industry.  Lawmakers in Minnesota have gotten particularly aggressive, pushing a registry for subcontractors that can be easily checked and then revoking licenses of contractors who don't comply.

Via Jonathan Barnes at the Engineering News-Record:

“After some success with the new effort, the Minnesota legislature recently extended the state's Contractor Registration Pilot Program for another year, saving it from expiring on June 30 as it was set to do, and extending its life until at least June 30, 2015.   Read more » about Minnesota Misclassification Crackdown Gets Results

The following article by Vince Bailey, an estimator at E&K of Phoenix, was originally published in Construction Dimensions, a monthly publication by the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.  Reprinted with permission.

They’re back.  Activity in the commercial construction industry has been on the upswing for a couple of years now for most of us, and the reemergence of an unwelcome element in our midst was inevitable.  It is an unfortunate but predictable phenomenon that when prosperity flourishes, the parasites appear, and so we should not be taken by surprise when an attack comes from below.  The only trouble is, whether surprised or not, there is often very little that can be done to retaliate when a low-baller comes out of nowhere and bombs an otherwise righteous bid opportunity, shattering the prospects of valid and qualified bidders.  The best we can usually expect to do is shrug our broad shoulders and wait for the bottom-feeders to self-destruct.  But in the meantime, there is no question that they drag the level of the field down to a lower tier.  Still, a general awareness (or, the dirty low-down) on the nature and development of these subcontracting scoundrels can be useful.

For the record, I’m not talking about qualified competitors who wind up on the low end of the number cluster on several successive bids.   Read more » about Dirty Low Down

One of the smartest people I know is a Master Plumber who owns a small plumbing company, Two Twigs Enterprises, here in Atlanta.  Cary Mandeville is his name.  He did some apprenticeship training for our organization early on, and he warned me.  He said, “This labor issue is a big boulder that we are going to have to chip away at, piece by piece.  The solution will not come quickly.”

For a long time, I stubbornly viewed the skilled labor shortage as a boulder that, with the right leverage, could be pushed, rolled or at least moved within a few years.  Eighteen years later, I realize that my plumber friend was right.   Read more » about Celebrate the Small Victories

Texas has to grapple with an ever-changing job landscape in ways that its leadership has not previously considered, State Comptroller Susan Combs said in a new report titled Workforce – Capitalizing on our Human Assets.  “Before the skills gap gets to a breaking point, it is important that we realize today’s best jobs require ever-increasing levels of specialized knowledge and technical expertise,” Combs said.

The retiring comptroller, who opted not to seek reelection, says lawmakers need to tackle several issues including increased funding for adult education programs, multimedia information campaigns to promote industry-based certification, and economic incentives for companies to create apprenticeship programs.

In her report, Combs said that “unskilled” jobs are becoming a thing of the past, and the workers of today need to be able to be adaptable to the point that they are lifelong learners.   Read more » about Texas Comptroller Pushes for More Job Training Programs

The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) continues to build momentum as evidenced by two recent occurrences, starting with the announcement that Texas Children’s Hospital has specified that its new TCH-The Woodlands Campus and TCH-Feigin Center 18th Floor OB/GYN Renovation will be C3 projects.  This means that all contractors working on them – every General Contractor and every Specialty Contractor – must be an Accredited C3 Employer or have received C3 Project Status designation (formerly called Conditional Status).  Not only is this a big win for craft workers, C3, and a sustainable construction workforce, but contractors have also told me that it is a win for them as well because it ensures a level playing field for all when competing for work.   Read more » about Gathering C3 Momentum

After successfully pushing for them in Austin, the Workers Defense Project is asking the City of Dallas to adopt an ordinance that would require contractors to give water breaks to construction workers.  It sounds like something that everyone should simply agree with but, as is often the case, the details are where the devil may reside.  Certainly no one would argue that workers should be denied water breaks.  Industry observers, however, have said that the enactment of an ordinance can open up the possibility that well-meaning businesses may be easily harassed by way of false reports.

Fox television in Dallas reports Workers Defense wants Big D to follow the lead of Austin and several other cities that have done something similar:   Read more » about A Push for Mandatory Water Breaks for Construction Workers in Dallas