Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

Now that it’s been given the green light by the the Austin City Council, a new program will launch in the coming weeks to expedite permitting for construction projects including "living wages" for large commercial projects.

The Austin Business Journal described the program this way:

After paying the additional fees, residential, mixed-use and small commercial projects can join the expedited permitting program with no extra hurdles. However major commercial projects — at least 75,000 square feet or $7.5 million in value, with no residential uses — must submit to oversight by a third party, such as the Workers Defense Project through its Better Builder Program.    Read more » about Austin Prepares to Launch New Expedited Building Permit Program

From the window of my home. I can see two cranes against the skyline. I live in Houston and over the past few years, cranes have become a pretty common site. With binoculars, I can see the sole operator in his solitary perch. All day he swings the long lateral arm. Sometimes it is a bucket of cement, other times long steel rods and other assorted materials. Any other method of moving so varied payloads would take a great deal more time and human power.    Read more » about Drill Bits

Following a recent report that some immigrants have avoided construction jobsites out of fear that they’ll be deported, the AGC in Austin decided to conduct a survey aimed at determining whether recent immigration enforcement actions by the Trump Administration have had a real impact on the workforce.

Here are some major takeaways from the survey:

76% of local commercial construction industry having hard time finding hourly craft workers, according to the survey. This is almost identical to the statewide results of 74% reported in an AGC of America survey last year.

40% responded that they’ve been having trouble for years finding workers, regardless of the recent government policy changes regarding illegal immigration. Only 19% responded that the recent changes are having SOME or a MAJOR impact on their work. 17% say it’s too early to tell. 28% say that the often-cited statistic that “50% of construction workers in Texas are undocumented” is either too low or about right. 22% say it depends on type of work and trades involved. 21% said they don’t know.   Read more » about Survey: 76% of Austin Area Construction Firms Say It is Difficult to Find Hourly Craft Workers

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.   Read more » about Lift & Move USA one-day Events Continue in 2017

The following article was authored by Mark L. Johnson and originally published in AWCI's Construction Dimensions magazine.

How do you ensure workers sharpen their skill sets? It’s a problem common in regions lacking unions and their great training programs. Most open shops can’t afford to develop craft training on their own. It’s time-consuming. It’s expensive.

So, how can it get done?

One idea comes from Houston. The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) has several high-profile projects, including some for the Texas Children’s Hospital. C3 has a novel approach: Owners require all players to have training programs in place. It’s a prerequisite to bid a C3 job.

“The wisdom behind what we’re doing is that it’s owner-driven,” says Chuck Gremillion, C3’s executive director. “The owner says, ‘This is my ballgame. These are my rules.’”    Read more » about Trained to Win

The construction industry in Texas is a great career option for many people who may have never previously considered it. That’s the message behind a new campaign called “Texas Builds” that was recently launched by the Associated General Contractors, or AGC, of Texas.

“Nearly 700,000 men and women work in construction throughout Texas. Construction workers in the state earn 10 percent more than the average worker in the state, and bring home an average salary of over $60,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” the AGC said. “And since most construction jobs do not require college degrees, many of those workers do not have college debts to worry about,” the group said.    Read more » about Construction Industry Launches “Texas Builds” Campaign

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.   Read more » about GHP Hosts Forum to Discuss Partnership Between Business and Education to Build Construction Workforce

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.   Read more » about Houston-area Craft Professionals Ready to Compete in the 30th annual ABC National Craft Championships [VIDEO]

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