A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

On Labor Day, Take Time to Thank the Working Men and Women Who Build America

It doesn’t matter if its 110 degrees in the hot Texas summer or -3 degrees in winter on the shores of Lake Michigan, working men and women all across America get up early, stay late, and make sure the job gets done. Whether it’s a high rise in Dallas, a new school in Miami, a hospital in Nebraska, or a new blacktop in California – it doesn’t happen without the labor of those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty so that many of us never have to.

Here in Texas, the state’s workforce commission tells us there are “13.8 million workers who are the backbone of our strong Texas economy. The state’s ongoing achievement is also linked to the innovation and competitiveness of employers in a range of growing industries providing workers with more opportunities to demonstrate their world-class skills.”

“We are strong, we are Texas, and we are hardworking Americans. We are also laying the foundation for a better tomorrow. As a result of these efforts, our Texas economy is thriving and so is our workforce,” the commission said on Friday. “The Texas labor market continues to add jobs with 377,100 positions added between July 2017 and July 2018. This month Texas hit 25 months of consecutive growth and our state’s unemployment rate remained at 4.0 percent in July, slightly above the national rate of 3.9 percent.”

“This Labor Day offers us the opportunity to not only celebrate our workers and recognize our employers but also reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring every Texan has equal opportunity. We take this time to encourage employers to allow us to connect them with workers from diverse and talented populations who are eager to put their skills to work,” the TWC said. “We can help employers learn the benefits of hiring veterans through programs such as Texas Operation Welcome Home and assist with recruiting, hiring, retaining and accommodating employees with disabilities.”

The spirit of Labor Day runs through everything our team does at Construction Citizen. Our mission to advance a socially responsible, sustainable, and value-added construction industry includes promotion of great careers as well as shining a spotlight on bad actors in this sector of the economy.

Government action should be applauded when necessary, like cracking down on wage theft and rooting out worker misclassification. But the private sector is also pursuing initiatives that are bearing fruit like the Construction Career Collaborative and the Greater Houston Partnership’s Upskill program.

While those efforts are focused on putting Americans to work in the vibrant Texas economy, the reality is that the immigrant worker must also be allowed to contribute. The AGC of America this past week in Houston called for immigration reform as part of an overall plan to bolster the workforce. “It would not open the floodgates, as they say,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “It would make sure that people are allowed in if there’s a job that exists for them.”

The Rational Middle documentary series is shedding light on the facts surrounding the immigration debate and how it impacts the workforce. Check them out here

Bolstering a skilled workforce in Texas is also the aim of education reforms passed by lawmakers in Austin. The law, known as House Bill 5, creates multiple pathways to a high school diploma and was hailed by many business leaders as a way to change the “one size fits all” approach to K-12 education that had been criticized for years as solely preparing kids for college with no recognition that a successful career can be achieved in other ways.

The state has seen challenges when it comes to implementation of House Bill 5, however, including a lack of resources for additional school counselors to help students and their families navigate the new system for earning a diploma. We’ve also heard recently from industry leaders that there needs to be more communication between themselves and educators to ensure that students know what career opportunities are available to them in their communities.

Once again, collaboration is key. 

We all have to work together to create a sustainable workforce. And as long as men and women are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard labor that improves all of our lives, we at Construction Citizen will have their backs.