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 following article was originally published in the Houston Chronicle:

Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council recently passed an ordinance encouraging apartment developers applying for tax incentives to provide workers with livable wages, offer affordable or workforce housing assistance, offer paid internships to low-income students, jobs to ex-cons re-entering the workforce and to create middle-skill jobs that don't require a college degree.

City leaders should be congratulated for taking a measured approach to encouraging new development while creating additional career opportunities in the skilled trades. But there is much more work to do if this story will become a true victory for the city of Houston, developers and individuals who work tirelessly building our community. For a number of complex reasons, the craft workforce in the commercial construction industry is unsustainable and inefficient. More craft workers are leaving the industry than joining it. Baby boomers are retiring and the industry is not attracting candidates quickly enough to replace them.    Read more » about The Construction Industry Needs a Culture Change: Stop the 'Race to the Bottom'

Talent and leadership are alive and well in America’s youth!  Last month, I attended the SkillsUSA National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.  First of all, WOW!  6,000 students competed in 100 competitions from baking to welding to graphic design to carpentry all under one roof.  These students are the best of the best skilled young people that America has to offer, and they were competing for the gold medal in just about every industry sector.

After seeing the competitions firsthand, I have to ask: Were you there?  Did you attend your state’s SkillsUSA competition?  Do you know what SkillsUSA is?  As an industry, we cannot sit back and complain that we do not have enough skilled young people to fill our open positions if we are not willing to invest the time and energy into connecting with organizations that are doing it right.  I am very lucky that my job allows me to travel around the country and meet the wonderful, hardworking people who make up the construction and maintenance industries.  But at the same time, I am astounded at how many of them are unaware of SkillsUSA.   Read more » about The Talent is There, You Just Need to Get Involved

Earlier this year I went to the 2016 ABC National Craft Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  While the competitors were fulfilling the tasks required of them during the hands-on portion of the challenge, I talked with several of the other attendees at this event highlighting craft careers, craft professionals, and the people and programs who train them.

I met Lisa Boyette, the then newly hired Commercial Training Manager for Houston’s Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), a training affiliate of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Houston.  She introduced me to Mike Barkett, President of the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, an organization affiliated with nine major trade associations whose joint mission is to train a quality workforce for the construction industry in Mississippi.   Read more » about Snapshots of 2016 NCC: Interview with MCEF President Mike Barkett [VIDEO]

Last month Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the arrest of Raimundo Hernandez-Argueta, owner of Naples construction company Complete Framing Professionals (CFP).  Following a joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) Division of Insurance Fraud and Division of Workers’ Compensation, Hernandez was arrested on fraud charges for allegedly misrepresenting information regarding CFP’s employee operations and payroll when applying for a workers’ compensation policy.  By doing so, Hernandez avoided at least $700,000 in workers’ compensation premium payments.  Workers’ compensation policies protect employees in the event of an on-the-job injury, and if proper policies are not in place, injured employees could be faced with lost wages and costly medical expenses to cover.

Investigators with the Department’s Division of Workers’ Compensation began investigating Hernandez in August 2013 when visits to CFP job sites led investigators to believe that Hernandez was concealing his company’s payroll amount in violation of Florida law.   Read more » about Florida Business Owner Arrested for $700,000 Workers’ Compensation Fraud Scheme

Earlier this month, Jim Kollaer wrote here on Construction Citizen that more than 400 new high rises are planned for London's skyline:

“That number is astonishing to me. That is 436 new buildings that will be added to the existing skyline. Sure, a number of them are either residential or mixed use, and the majority of them are office buildings; but it appears that the demand for the space is there waiting for the supply to catch up,” Kollaer wrote.

Jim's report was spot-on at the time, but last week’s vote by the British to exit, or “Brexit,” the European Union could severely hamper that construction market for a variety of reasons.    Read more » about Brexit Vote Could Impact UK's Ability to Build the London of Tomorrow

Crane Industry Services LLC (CIS) has taken delivery of three Vortex Simulators from CM Labs Simulations Inc., Montreal, Quebec.  The simulators are designed to provide training and to conduct performance checks for operators of mobile cranes, tower cranes, and excavators.

“The addition of simulators into our curriculum is a natural fit,” said Debbie Dickinson, CEO of CIS, which provides blended-learning training techniques including online introductory training, instructor-led classroom training, hands-on instruction, and on-the-job training.  “These simulators also meet our strategic objectives of recruiting and preparing workers for skilled trades in crane operation, construction, heavy industry, and manufacturing,” said Dickinson.

The simulators are housed at the Centered on Safety™ Training Center located on West Georgia Technical College’s Murphy campus.  “We are pleased with the addition of crane and excavation equipment simulators, which provides added value for employers and students in our community,” said Laura Gammage, Vice President of Economic Development for WGTC.   Read more » about Crane Industry Services Installs Crane and Excavator Simulators at Centered on Safety Training Center

The Business Columnist at the Houston Chronicle over the weekend forcefully made the argument that tackling the skilled worker shortage along the Gulf Coast will take a lot of work.

"There is plenty of blame to go around for the skilled labor shortage," wrote Chris Tomlinson. "Replacing the retiring workforce will take an all-of-the-above approach, with pre-K through 12th-grade programs graduating career-ready students, community colleges teaching the latest skills, and employers investing in training or agreeing to hire union labor."

Tomlinson drilled down on why there's a shortage of skilled workers in the first place. Among others, he spoke with J.D. Slaughter, vice president at S&B Engineers and Constructors:    Read more » about Houston Chronicle Business Columnist Argues for Better Pay and More Respect for Craft Workers

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

We continue discussing the importance of culture both in creating high-performance teams and in winning the war for talent.  The research seems so compelling that most true leaders believe it is THE fundamental for competitive success.  It even trumps strategy in the hierarchy of critical ingredients.

Culture emanates from the beliefs and values of the founders, owners, and senior leaders and is reflected in the “way we do things here – what you can count on from us.”  It is the basis for policies and practices.  The role of the senior leadership team and all other managers is to define it, align the people to it, and above all demonstrate it.

If leaders walk their talk consistently – writing an occasional check or eliminating a top economic performer who is a major culture killer – specific examples will become part of the “tribal stories” and will be passed along with pride from generation to generation.  I have personally seen this many times.   Read more » about Reinforcing and Engraining Culture