A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Last month, the Associated Builders and Contractors hosted the 2017 National Craft Championships, a two-day competition for craft profession trainees and apprentices.  While the competitors were completing the six-hour hands-on portion of the competition, I spoke with project managers for some of the skilled craft competitions to get an idea of what the competitors were being asked to do.  
April 17, 2017
The Construction & Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), an educational affiliate of ABC Greater Houston, hosted an open house yesterday at their Performance Verification Center in La Porte, Texas.  CMEF contributors, ABC members, and guests were invited to tour the facility while enjoying some live music and barbeque.
March 31, 2017
The 2017 ABC National Craft Championships concluded with an awards ceremony at 8:30 am Friday morning in the Floridian Ballroom of the Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Convention Center.  I was privileged to attend the hands-on portion of the two-day competition for craft profession trainees and apprentices, as well as the awards ceremony Friday morning for what Greg Sizemore, ABC Vice President of EH&S and Workforce Development, called “The biggest and best celebration of merit shop construction.”
March 24, 2017
The first of four Lift & Move USA career events in 2017 was held February 14 in Tampa, Florida, hosted by ALL Crane Rental of Florida, LLC, part of the ALL Family of Companies.  The event saw approximately 450 young people from local schools and colleges who converged on ALL Crane’s Tampa facility to learn first-hand about careers in the crane, rigging and specialized transport industry and to see heavy equipment at close quarters.  I attended one of the Lift & Move events last year in Houston and shared some video interviews I recorded then.Lift & Move USA is a program promoting careers in the industry to high school and college students and veterans.  It was launched in 2015 by the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA), the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), and industry publisher KHL Group, owners of American Cranes & Transport magazine.  
March 10, 2017
The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) hosted a town hall on Friday for leaders in the education and construction industries to learn about and discuss ways in which they can partner to bring workforce opportunities to students and build the construction craft workforce of the future.  The UpSkill Houston Town Hall: Build Your Facilities and Build Your Community was held in the GHP’s beautiful new space in Partnership Tower, where regional superintendents, college and university chancellors, and construction contractor executives and owners enjoyed a light lunch while listening to the program before offering their own comments and questions to the panel at the end.Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, kicked off the program by welcoming the group.  
March 01, 2017
Next week the 2017 National Craft Championships, hosted by the Associated Builders and Contractors of America (ABC), will take place at the beautiful Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.  Prior to their trip to Florida, I was able to meet up with three of the craft trainees and apprentices from the Houston area who will be competing in the event.  Each of these competitors is sponsored by the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), the educational affiliate of ABC Greater Houston.  Each of them receives CMEF Training either at a CMEF sponsored college campus or at the CMEF training facility in La Porte, Texas.  
February 24, 2017
Sheral Keller, the director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration at the Louisiana Workforce Commission (OWCA), has written an article in which she explains how worker misclassification and payroll fraud have directly harmed Louisiana employees and taxpaying citizens in past years, and how in 2017 the OWCA Fraud Unit and the Office of Unemployment Insurance (UI) plan to work together to combat these unscrupulous and illegal practices.  The article was published in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report and in the first quarter 2017 edition of 10/12 Industry Report.  The article includes numbers from the past two years:“In 2016, the Fraud Unit investigated 790 allegations of fraud, with 20 having been referred to the Attorney General’s Office.  Successful criminal prosecutions resulted in restitution of $1,233,875 from nine employers and $391,018 from 11 employees.  While these numbers are impressive, they represent only the tip of the iceberg of the fraud committed in our state, mostly by employer misclassification.“In 2015, audits of 1,068 companies by UI identified approximately 19,956 people misclassified as independent contractors rather than as employees (2016 numbers were not available at press time).  Consequently, the agency billed $1,496,778 in unemployment insurance taxes that employers owed based on the underreporting of $100,818,591 in taxable wages.”  
February 20, 2017
An article by Johnny Magdaleno which was published in Next City last month offers reactions by representatives from the Workers Defense Project and Workforce Solutions Capital Area to a report by personal finance website NerdWallet which listed Austin, Texas as “the best place to search for a job in 2017.”The Austin area is indeed growing its employment opportunities in technical fields with the opening of Apple’s new campus and the promised funding by Microsoft, Google, and IBM for internships for low-income job seekers and veterans through the TechHire initiative.However, workers in the construction, restaurant, and other service industries are not all finding the same job growth opportunities.  
February 02, 2017
Just in time for the renowned ball drop on New Year’s Eve, the four-and-a-half-year renovation of Times Square in New York has just been completed.  An article by Jennifer Fermino in the New York Daily News this week quoted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who stated, “There will be no more iconic place to ring in 2017 than Times Square.”Named the Times Square Transformation, the project was a three-phase capital project which began in 2012.  Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had opened the Broadway pedestrian plazas there back in 2009, and the recent project “transformed [the plazas] from repurposed roadways into full pedestrian piazzas” designed by architecture firm Snøhetta.Con Edison led phase one of the project, in which they installed “major infrastructure improvements below street level on Broadway, bringing up-to-date electric, gas, and steam equipment that has been untouched for many decades (The NYC Department of Design and Construction will first have to dig up trolley tracks that were buried under Broadway since the 19th Century!)  
December 30, 2016
As construction companies continue to look for ways to grow a sustainable workforce whose craft professionals are well trained in skilled craft trades as well as in essential safety procedures, TEXO has developed an initiative to help commercial construction companies achieve the latter.  TEXO is a large trade association of builders in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas, and Safety First is a safety training course which companies can send employees to for an interactive orientation in how to keep themselves and others safe on jobsites.  Classes are offered in either English or Spanish, and participants must be pre-registered as the classes usually fill up in advance and are limited to approximately 40 students each.Todd Holtz, Vice President of Safety at TEXO, had this to say about the program:“TEXO’s Safety First program is a hands-on, interactive safety orientation for commercial construction employees.  In place since 2013 and endorsed by industry leaders in the field of construction safety, participants have the opportunity to handle and wear the PPE they are expected to use on a jobsite, in addition to learning about the safe use of tools in their trade.  
December 13, 2016