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?

Over the years, the Construction Citizen team has put a bright spotlight on the myriad problems caused by worker misclassification. Those difficulties continue to mount while Texas lawmakers do very little about it, much to the frustration of ethical companies that cannot compete with cheaters, many single mothers who are denied child support payments, conservative activists upset about illegal immigration, and workers’ rights advocates who believe in a better standard of living for those who toil in the hot Texas sun.

Worker misclassification is one of the major underlying problems when it comes to fixing all those challenges.

If you're unfamiliar, worker misclassification is a fancy term for cheating on payroll. That’s why labor activists call it “payroll fraud.” It happens when a boss pretends their worker is an “independent subcontractor” instead of an employee even when, by law, the person should be on the books as an employee.   Read more » about Cheating by Unethical Employers Reaches Crisis Levels While Texas Lawmakers Sit on Their Hands

Last week a group of construction professionals from Marek once again volunteered their time to instruct high school students in drywall installation at their new state-of-the-art Pasadena Independent School District facility.  Houston area construction firms such as Marek have partnered with Pasadena ISD in the past to enhance the programs offered to students looking for careers in construction.

In past years these workshops occurred at the L.P. Card Career and Technical Center, which was a high school campus where juniors and seniors were enrolled in certain career and technical programs (including construction technology) for half of each school day while remaining enrolled in classes at their home Pasadena ISD campuses for the other half of each day.  Beginning with the current school year, the new Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School (CTHS) is now a four-year high school where students who apply and are accepted into these career-oriented programs attend for all four years while completing all requirements for their high school diplomas.   Read more » about Drywall Clinic at Technical High School Promotes Careers in Construction: Part 1

RUS Industrial recently donated more than $150,000 worth of electrical materials to Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) as a show of support to craft training and electrical education.

According to Vice President Kevin Laird, RUS Industrial chose CMEF for their hefty donation to assist in the development of training programs. This generous donation will expand CMEF’s ability to provide electrical training and certifications.

“The advanced electrical equipment will allow CMEF students access to top-of-the-line training equipment in their craft. With this donation we can begin offering advanced electrical education courses, which is critical in our efforts in training a safe, sustainable workforce,” CMEF Training Manager Blair Williamson said.    Read more » about CMEF Receives Generous Donation of Electrical Equipment for Training Program

Sponsors, Educators, Mentors and Supporters of ACE Mentor Houston, which provides guidance and assistance for students interested in careers in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering industry throughout the school year, came together last month to celebrate the program's success and acknowledge mentors and sponsors.  The following was provided by Angela Cotie of Gilbane Building, who serves as ACE Mentor Houston’s Chairman.

Construction, Architecture, and Engineering professionals from the greater Houston area gathered on February 24 to celebrate the charity’s growth and success this school year for the Building Blocks Breakfast.  The ACE Mentor Houston’s annual breakfast was host to over 85 guests – including sponsors, mentors, family, friends, and educators – where the announcement of the “Mentor of the Year,” “Rookie Mentor of the Year” and Winner of the “Carrie Arnold-Gutierrez Leadership Award” as well as a State of ACE announcement and panelist discussion took place.

The winners of the coveted awards are as follows:

Rookie Mentor of the Year: Tarek Ayoubi, Principal at Walter P Moore Associates, Inc.

Mentor of the Year: Joseph Greco at Woodhouse Day Spa

Carrie Arnold-Gutierrez Leadership Award: Carrie Arnold-Gutierrez, formally of the Bechtel Corporation, Houston.   Read more » about ACE Mentor Houston awards their Mentors of the Year!

Construction firms and labor advocates alike have now told state lawmakers they are in favor of a proposal under consideration at the Texas Capitol to create a searchable database of employers convicted of stealing the wages of their workers.

Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, told the Texas House Business and Industry Committee during a public hearing that the current version of her legislation, House Bill 94, is the result of collaboration with business interests, workers’ rights advocates and Republican lawmakers who want to protect ethical employers and workers as well.

Former Republican Rep. John Davis, R-Clear Lake, helped the El Paso-area Democrat craft this legislation along with Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, and Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston.

"Wage theft is bad for good business," González said.    Read more » about Business and Labor Join Forces in Push to Crack Down on Wage Theft in Texas

Hundreds marched through downtown Austin in Febuary to honor the men and women who have died in the Texas construction industry. The event was organized by Workers Defense Project and drew statewide support.

“It is heartbreaking that Texas remains the deadliest state in the country to work in construction. Workers Defense will keep organizing, marching, and taking action until our elected officials stand with the working families they represent,” said Cristina Tzintzún, Executive Director of Workers Defense Project.

“We are here today because the hands that build Texas in this deadly industry also feed families. It doesn’t have to be this way -- the Texas construction industry can be safe. But our elected officials must take action,” said Tzintzún.    Read more » about Hundreds March In Honor Of Fallen Workers

Construction in the United States faces a challenge that’s been at the center of an ongoing discussion for most of my career in the industry. But, the challenge of sustaining a workforce has grown from a mere nuisance into a problem that could threaten the viability of recently announced projects. More importantly, it could stand in the way of our country’s ability to reclaim its rightful position as the world leader in manufacturing. It is shameful that we have not held that position in two decades.

The ABC board of directors in Houston recognizes the importance of tackling this problem head-on. That’s why ABC’s Industrial Committee will look into opportunities and recommend board action on the issue of the availability of qualified construction craft professionals and the need for coordinated workforce development in the Greater Houston Area.    Read more » about ABC Houston’s Industrial Committee Will Tackle Workforce Challenges

As many of you may be aware, the Construction Career Collaborative (C3) began in late 2009 when a small group of leaders met to discuss the ominous signs of a looming craft worker shortage. From that meeting, a vision was crafted that not only addressed the future workforce needs of our industry, but also included a plan that engaged all participants in the construction process, beginning with the construction owner.

Since that meeting, a lot has been done, and much is going on, but the real work is just beginning. A board of directors was formed. A mission and principles were adopted. Bylaws were written. Committees of volunteers, who enthusiastically endorsed the mission and principles of C3, were created and many great ideas were generated and developed. Beta projects were identified and then built.    Read more » about Generating a Return on Investment