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 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

The injury rate on construction sites in Texas over the last decade has fallen 50 percent, according to numbers released this week from the Associated General Contractors.

“While construction activity is on the rise in Texas, injury and fatality rates are on the decline,” said Austin AGC President Phil Thoden.  “That's good news for Texas workers, and is concrete evidence that construction companies here take jobsite safety very seriously,” Thoden said.

AGC Houston President Jerry Nevlud agreed but took it one step further.  “We are always very happy to see safety numbers trending in the right direction, but our members’ commitment to safety is not so much on the movement of rates, but simply that every individual on a job site goes home safely each day to his or her family,” Nevlud said.

Many AGC companies in Texas further demonstrated their commitment to workplace safety this past week by participating in the National Safety Stand-Down on Fall Protection organized by the federal Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA).  Our industry insider Jim Kollaer reported on that earlier.   Read more » about Construction Injuries in Texas Down Dramatically, AGC Says

Hi there.  The Chamberlin Man here.

In our business you come to expect the unexpected. Unpredictable challenges are just part of the work we do.  You might say, it's “par for the course.”

At Chamberlin, our goal for each project is to produce a leak-free, quality installation on time with a spirit of cooperation as a key ingredient.  We take great pride in our ability to effectively go with the flow of work, keeping a job well done as the end result in sight.

Staging work with other trades, getting the job done safely, and hurdling challenges as they arise is the Chamberlin way.  Don't take our word for it, read about how we did it at the Robert D. Moreton building in Austin.  “Unexpected Challenges Call for Creative Solutions” is the cover story in our latest newsletter.

If by some off chance you don't get our newsletter, let us know by emailing your request to and we'll drop one in the mail.   Read more » about Expecting the Unexpected

Recently, I described the reasoning behind the creation of Construction Career Collaborative (C3) and attributed it to the fact that the construction industry has an unsustainable workforce.  In that essay, I listed five different but related reasons how we got “into this mess.”  Among those are a misclassification of craft workers as subcontractors, a movement away from craft training and safety training, a de emphasis of vocational education in our high schools in an effort to prepare all students for college, a perception among young people that the construction industry is dirty and unsafe, and a flood of undocumented workers who work in the shadows with no recourse to address wage abuse resulting in downward pressure on wages.  All of these reasons contribute to why young people are not attracted to an industry that formerly provided an excellent path to a middle class living.

So one might ask, “What is the solution to this problem?”  For starters, the commercial construction industry must cease business practices that make it unattractive to prospective workforce candidates such as misclassification of its workers as contract employees.  To be blunt, who wants to work in an industry that does not pay matching social security taxes, federal and state unemployment taxes, provide workers compensation insurance, or any form of employee benefits?   Read more » about The Path Forward to a Sustainable Workforce

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees about the Construction Career Collaborative (C3).  As a journalist who's covered the program’s development in Houston, I felt the board should at least know about it as they consider how to improve the lives of the workers on AISD construction projects.

I have a son in the Austin school district.  He’s 15 and at that age when a young man tries to figure out what he’s going to do with his life.  He may go to college and pursue a four-year degree or he may decide he’d rather do something in the skilled trades.  I will be proud of him no matter what.   Read more » about Austin School Board Hears about the Construction Career Collaborative