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?

The word “audit” doesn’t necessarily have the most pleasant connotation for most non-profits.

However, Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), the training affiliate of Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, successfully passed their recent NCCER audit.  After a training facility is accredited by NCCER, they participate in an audit every three years as part of the reaccreditation process.  Acting almost as a review, an auditor will assess the facility’s effectiveness by evaluating equipment, classes, student performance and instructor records.  NCCER awarded CMEF the Accredited Assessment Center and Accredited Training Sponsor Certificates, and endorsed the Foundation for Mobile Crane and Rigger/Signal Person certification delivery.   Read more » about CMEF’s Audit Results Provide Feedback to NCCER

On November 12, the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) held a Workforce Development Summit as part of their UpSkill Houston initiative at which Joseph Fuller, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School, was the luncheon keynote speaker.  Gina Luna, GHP Vice Chairman and Chairman at JPMorgan Chase in Houston, introduced him to the gathered group of business leaders, educators, and representatives from community organizations.

After some opening remarks, Mr. Fuller began the meat of his presentation by explaining why projects like UpSkill Houston are so crucial.  He said,

“Something good has to happen here, because this city, this state, the energy sector – and more importantly and more profoundly – the country is suffering from a wasting disease, and the waste is that we are not investing in the skills of young people or people who have been displaced from the workforce,   Read more » about Rebuilding Middle Skills Crucial for Our Country: Part 2 of 2 [VIDEO]

Ethical operators in construction do all they can to ensure their craftsmen and women are extremely safe on their jobsites. Many companies go as far as maintaining an ongoing relationship with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, so that the industry and the government can be proactive, instead of reactive, when it comes to the safety of people on jobsites across America. While some companies are skeptical that kind of arrangement, other firms have found it is a positive way to stay ahead of potential problems that increase liability and make them less attractive employment options.    Read more » about Top Ten Safety Violations of 2014

A man who had been homeless on the streets of Sacramento, California, says he has the local NBA team to thank for his new career in construction, which has led to an already improved quality of life. Eric Martinez is one of the heavy equipment operators helping to build the new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings.

As part of the construction, the team partnered with local leaders to promote careers in the building trades.

The team's Community Workforce Pipeline - a program launched earlier this year - is designed specifically to help those in need transition into construction careers. In a news release, the team said, "The Apprenticeship Program is an unprecedented collaboration of several organizations...    Read more » about Sacramento Kings Promote Jobs in Construction

Last month the Greater Houston Partnership held a Workforce Development Summit as part of their UpSkill Houston initiative at which Joseph Fuller of the Harvard Business School was the luncheon keynote speaker.  The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) launched UpSkill Houston earlier this year as a six-year, $6 million project aiming to close the gap between middle skills job openings – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a degree from a four-year university – and the lack of qualified workers to fill these.  Gathered business leaders, educators, and representatives from community organizations enjoyed lunch at the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom in the University of Houston Hilton Hotel while hearing his presentation U.S. Competitiveness: Building America’s Middle Skills.

Following GHP’s President and CEO Bob Harvey’s welcome, Gina Luna, GHP Vice Chairman and Chairman at JPMorgan Chase in Houston, introduced the following 3½-minute video with a few remarks on the need UpSkill Houston aims to fill.  She quoted Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, from his presentation earlier that morning when he spoke of the goal to “move people up and bring people in.”  About the UpSkill Houston project, she said,

“This must be driven by the business community.  We have great partners and capable partners in our educators and in our social service agencies that all play a role in this, but to be successful and to make the difference that we intend to, it will be business driven.”   Read more » about Rebuilding Middle Skills is Crucial for Our Country: Part 1 of 2 [VIDEO]

After more than thirty years in the construction industry, it’s time for me to step aside to make room for the next generation, and I must say I’m encouraged by what I see.

As I look back at my career in the industry, I’ve witnessed a lot of change.  In the 1980s, when I worked for one of the top engineering and construction firms in the nation, we didn’t have recruitment issues.  We had projects valued at more than $500 million with thousands of employees, and when we needed more pipefitters, welders or other craft professionals, we mailed notices to all those in our database who had ever worked for us.  We could expect that within days our employment offices would be full and our project workforce needs met.  During that time, employees went from contractor to contractor depending on where the work was.  The pay and benefits were good and the pool of employees seemed endless.   Read more » about Remembering the Past and Encouraged for the Future

Leadership Forum: “Not only did it help me professionally, but it helps me do better in life.”

Editor’s note: The Leadership Forum will be conducted January 8, 2015 – May 29, 2015 at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston, 3910 Kirby Dr., Ste. 131, Houston, TX 77098

ABC’s Leadership Forum consists of 10 sessions over the span of 10 weeks. Attendees learn about team building, communication, negotiation and much more. Ray Beaudet, operations and senior project manager with Griesenbeck Architectural Products, Inc., was first to admit he thought himself to be a pro at these skills. And with a booming Houston market, he struggled to even think of separating from his desk. So when Beaudet’s boss signed him up for ABC’s Leadership Forum, he wasn’t exactly thrilled.    Read more » about ABC Leadership Forum Teaches Professional and Life Lessons

The reason contractors in the Houston area need comprehensive immigration reform immediately is straightforward: to have legal access to immigrant workers so that they can help build all the projects that are planned or are already under construction in this market, which is coming on like gangbusters.  The market is projected to keep booming for at least the next three to five years.

There is no doubt in my mind that the greater Houston area is in the midst of an unprecedented building boom.  In my 31 years of closely monitoring this construction marketplace, I have never seen the conditions that exist now.  And it’s projected to continue going forward.  All major market sectors – residential, heavy industrial, highway and civil, and commercial – are on fire and so is every segment within those sectors.

In residential, both single-family and multi-family units are being built at record levels.  In heavy industrial, it is both power and chemical plants – driven by natural gas as both a power and feedstock source – that are being built here in Texas and next door in Louisiana.  In highway and civil construction, the Texas Department of Transportation as well as cities and counties all have projects underway, and more projects are on the drawing board.  And in commercial, it is the medical segment, the K-12 school segment, the colleges and universities segment, the warehouse segment, and general purpose office space segments that continue to all see building at near record levels.   Read more » about The Texas Construction Industry Needs Comprehensive Immigration Reform