I recently attended the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) 2011 Membership meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. CURT is closely aligned with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), but is itself involved at the owner level in addressing issues related to recruiting, training, and retaining a highly skilled construction workforce for the future.
Our welcome speaker was Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Jay Dardenne. In his speech, he referenced a Science Magazine poll that proclaimed Louisiana as the happiest state. Now I live in the great state of Texas these days and love it, but I’m a Louisiana girl at heart so I was not surprised at this information. It was his optimism about the future of his state that really resonated with the audience of 150 construction professionals focused on the improvement of industry practices. There was a feeling of optimism for the future of our industry present in the crowd.
The Workforce Development Committee meeting covered the objectives of this committee including:
- Promote the CWDC Labor Supply/Demand Forecasting Model to facilitate more effective understanding of skilled labor requirements and availability.
- Promote effective methods of workforce recruitment, training and retention through the Choose Construction Initiative – including building partnerships with existing organizations that attract, train and retain construction industry workers.
- Develop and promote contractor prequalification guidelines to help facilitate effective workforce development.
- Recognize outstanding efforts that alleviate skilled craft shortages and promote skilled-trades training and journeyman upgrading.
- Promote sensible management practices and policies that positively affect workforce procurement.
We have recognized for some time that owner involvement is vital if we hope to create an industry wide culture that supports the development of a highly skilled workforce. We cannot continue to just say that this is a great industry – we must prove it by providing training, career pathways, a fair wage and a safe work environment. CURT provides owners with opportunities to network with responsible users of construction services and to become more aware and actively engaged in improving our industry and the buildings and structures that we deliver.