A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Investing in the Future

You know that one street that always seems to be a bit rough and filled with potholes?  Every town I’ve lived in seems to have the one road that needs to be under construction.  Roads like that are part of the plan to rebuild our infrastructure, but who’s going to do it?

Sixty-one thousand jobs were added to the construction industry in February, a significant portion of the 313,000 positions that were added to the job market that month.  It comes as no surprise to those of us in the industry; it’s been estimated that there will be a shortage of 1.5 million craft professionals by 2021.  With the added pressure of the Baby Boomers retiring, one has to wonder how the jobs will be filled.  Who is going to repair that leaky pipe, rebuild the roads, replace your air conditioning, hang the drywall or fix the power line?  It can be easy to think that it’s somebody else’s problem until we realize how much jobs in the construction industry affect our daily lives.

However, we can look at this as an opportunity.  That’s right, an opportunity to showcase the absolute necessity of the construction industry and more importantly, how rewarding it is.  Recently, I watched a TV episode in which a teenager made an impassioned speech about wanting to build bridges so he could do something with his hands that would make a lasting impact.  This is exactly the sentiment that we need to encourage to make construction more appealing.

How can we make construction more attractive?  As parents or educators, encourage young people to check out the various opportunities in the industry.  As companies or organizations, provide the opportunities to introduce teenagers and young adults to the crafts, such as offering summer positions.  Not only do summer jobs give teens and young adults a behind-the-scenes look at a rewarding career, it's an investment in the future workforce.

Teenagers and young adults are intelligent, curious and receptive; summer jobs can help them find the right fit for a life-long career.  Introducing crafts early opens the door to a world that they may not have known existed or that they are talented in.  Take Richard Campbell for example: straight out of high school he started sandblasting pipe at a fabrication shop and quickly found that was not for him.  However, at the very same shop, he was introduced to welding and realized it was where he excelled.  He’s now a highly skilled craft professional and teaches the next generation.

Offering summer jobs, such as internships, can give youth the chance to see a career that offers great pay, the ability to learn a craft, and the satisfaction of accomplishing something that will last.  The internship program at Performance Contractors is a prime example of a summer job that provides hands-on learning and shows the opportunities available.  As David Theriot, Performance Contractors, points out, “Internships are a great way to gain valuable industry experience as you get your feet wet in a real-world setting.”

Investing in internships or summer programs for our youth is investing in the future, including building the workforce and making connections with the next generation.  What type of summer program does your company have in place or is planning on starting?