Reshaping the Construction Industry

There is currently not enough information available about career opportunities in the construction industry.  This means that educating everybody about our industry is critical, especially our education system.  It is more important than ever for contractors to connect with educators at the local level.  Members of industry can do this by providing opportunities for presentations and field trips and by joining advisory boards to offer input about the knowledge and skills the industry expects from new entrants.

In February 2011, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education published a landmark report, Pathways to Prosperity (download available below), which outlined the need for multiple career pathways to be incorporated into America’s education system.   Read more » about Building Stronger Career Pathways

Many contractors and sub contractors don’t pay much attention to the real estate cycle until it impacts their business and then it gets really personal for them, owners and employees.  When we are in the middle of a recovery and our workload consumes our every waking hour and a few of those sleep hours as well, we rarely step back to take a look at the bigger picture and can overlook major opportunities for business.

We thought that it might make a little sense to take a quick look at the overall market and offer an opportunity that you might want to consider.

The economic recovery has “thrown a wrench” into the markets, especially that part of the cycle that I call “Perk Up and Trickle Down.”  There are so many generational, tech, and social forces at play today that many building owners, tenants and even construction folks whose leases are expiring are confused.   Read more » about Perk up or Trickle Down? Opportunities for New Business

Covering the panoramic view of Paris, models led by global fashion sensation Jessica Minh Anh will catwalk on the brand new glass floor of the Eiffel Tower at 8am this Friday October 31, 2014.  The highly anticipated J Autumn Fashion Show 2014 will be the first ever catwalk produced on the iconic tower and mark Jessica Minh Anh’s 8th history making showcase at the most symbolic venues in the world, following her phenomenal success atop One World Trade Center earlier this year.

Catwalking for the second time on a transparent floor, the first being the Grand Canyon Skywalk at 4000 feet above the Colorado river, Jessica Minh Anh said “I am a big fan of great heights, and seeing the distance from catwalk to the ground is definitely a thrill.”

With a vision that goes beyond imagination, the innovative show producer will present a two-tiered outdoor catwalk, which spans over 150 meters across the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, 57 meters above ground level.   Read more » about Transforming the Eiffel Tower into a Catwalk: J Autumn Fashion Show 2014 in Paris

As is happening in Texas and other states, lawmakers in North Carolina are now finally taking a look at what they should do to crack down on the epidemic levels of worker misclassification in the construction industry. Time Warner Cable News in Raleigh reports:

It comes on the heels of an investigative series in the News and Observer and its affiliated newspapers, highlighting the illegal practice of classifying employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying taxes and other benefits. Read more » about Spurred by Media Coverage, North Carolina Lawmakers Zero In on Worker Misclassification

Contractors report trouble finding workers, expect worse ahead as employment picks up

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Contractors report increasing difficulty finding qualified workers.  AGC reported last Wednesday that 83% of the 1,086 respondents to a survey it conducted in late August and September said their firms were having a hard time filling craft worker positions and 61% said the same about key professional positions. (In a survey AGC released in January, 53% reported difficulty filling craft positions and 45% reported difficulty filling professional positions.) Of 12 crafts included in the survey, the most-cited position was carpenters, with 66% of firms that employ carpenters saying they are hard to find. Other hard-to-fill crafts included roofers (listed by 64% of firms that employ them); equipment operators (59%); plumbers (54%); electricians (52%); iron workers, laborers and pipefitters/welders (49% each); and cement masons (48%).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: October 21-24, 2014

The following article originally appeared in the October newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

Every CEO and senior executive has, as a major part of their responsibilities, the obligation to set the strategic direction for their organization so that it has a deliberately designed future – one that is believable and desirable.  They also have the obligation to lead their organization toward that future, acquiring the necessary resources and making the critical changes.

Strategy, simply defined by the reigning guru Michael Porter of the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard, is what an organization faced with competition does to gain a sustainable completive advantage in the markets.  It is how it puts resources at risk to provide more value, or a different value than competitors, to a targeted group of customers within target market segments.  It becomes in essence “What” the company does.   Read more » about Who Before What: Talent Enables Strategy

The federal government is getting more serious all the time about cracking down on businesses that pretend their employees are subcontractors when, by law, they should be paid as employees.  That was part of the message of labor law attorney Daniel Ramirez as he spoke to about a hundred representatives of various businesses at a labor law conference in the Dallas area hosted by
K&S Insurance Agency.

Ramirez, who also spoke in great detail about workplace issues like sexual harassment and the realities of the Affordable Care Act, said that his main concern for employers about worker misclassification is that companies can quickly find themselves in court facing class-action lawsuits.

“This is one of the hottest litigated issues,” Ramirez said, in large part because some workers will find out they should have been paid as employees and therefore should have received overtime pay.   Read more » about Noted Labor Law Attorney Warns Employers Against Worker Misclassification

Workforce shortages have been predicted for decades.  I recall a sociology professor talking about the “snake eating a pig” theory of demographics and how that would be a problem in the workforce in the early 21st century.  That talk took place 50 years ago and today those predictions are a reality.

Despite the early warnings and the facts pointing to potential shortages, many firms in the construction industry are still ill-prepared to deal with issues surrounding the possibility that they would experience shortages in skilled workers until recently.  The response from some in the industry is to deny that the shortages exist on their projects.  Some recognize the problems but don’t know what to do about them; some recognize the problems and are looking for solutions; and some are even leading the industry in solving those issues.   Read more » about Workforce Shortages in Green Building

PPIs remain mild in September; employment rises; construction spending drops in August

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand dropped 0.3%, not seasonally adjusted (-0.1%, seasonally adjusted), in September and rose 1.6% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported last Wednesday. AGC posted an explanation and tables focusing on construction prices and costs. Final demand includes goods, services and five types of nonresidential buildings that BLS says make up 34% of total construction. There are no indexes yet for other building types, or for residential or nonbuilding construction. The PPI for final demand construction, not seasonally adjusted, was flat in September and rose 3.0% over 12 months. The overall PPI for new nonresidential building construction—a measure of the price contractors say they would charge to build a fixed set of five categories of buildings—was flat for the month and up 3.1% since September 2013. The PPI for new warehouse construction fell 0.1% in September and rose 2.2% over 12 months; offices, 0.1% and 3.2%, respectively; industrial buildings, 0 and 3.3%; school buildings, -0.1% and 3.4%; and health care buildings, 0 and 2.7%. PPIs for new, repair and maintenance work on nonresidential buildings by concrete contractors rose 0.1% and 1.5%; electrical contractors, 0 and 1.0%; plumbing contractors, 0 and 4.7%; and roofers, -0.4% and 4.9%.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 30 - October 20, 2014

Following concerns raised here on Construction Citizen by contractors in Austin, the Austin Community College Board of Trustees has decided to create a task force to hammer out new rules for construction under a proposed $386 million bond.

The ACC board was planning to move ahead with the new rules when Associated General Contractors Austin President Phil Thoden wrote on Construction Citizen that it appeared the proposal was being rammed through:

"...the resolution appears to have been crafted without input from a broad range of the local construction community.  This is especially puzzling when you consider that the owner in this case has the word “community” as part its official name.   Read more » about Austin Community College Taps the Brakes on New Rules for Construction

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