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?

Following the 2016 ABC National Craft Championships in Fort Lauderdale last month, Michael Noschese and Jose Morua, the gold and silver medalists in the Structural Welding competition, spoke with myself and fellow Construction Citizen author Jasmine Swoope about their experiences in the competition.  In a classroom at the CMEF facility in La Porte, Texas, we first heard from the winner of the Gold Medal in Structural Welding, Michael Noschese.

Elizabeth McPherson:  Michael, congratulations on your gold-medal win in structural welding at the National Craft Championships.  What was it like when you were in the middle of the competition, and you were doing your welds?  Were you thinking about the competition or were you just so focused?

Michael Noschese:  I was mainly focused on the welding.  I tried to stay calm.  I was calm throughout the whole thing, mainly.  I just did the welding.   Read more » about ABC National Craft Championships Medalists Share Their Experiences [VIDEO]

Across the country, there are more and more examples of businesses facing legal consequences because they were misclassifying workers as independent subcontractors when, by law, those people should have been treated as employees and compensated as such.

As Construction Citizen has documented over the years, there are many legitimate uses of contract labor. There is also, however a scourge of certain employers abusing the designation to dodge taxes, health benefits and other costs associated with having employees on payroll. Misclassification happens when a business intentionally uses contract labor to gain an unfair competitive advantage.    Read more » about Lawsuits Ramping Up Over Worker Misclassification

Editor’s note: Earlier, we told you about an event which focused on women in construction careers which was held in Galveston, Texas in February.  The following wrap-up of the Women in Industry conference was submitted by Alexandra Ellis, Workforce Communications Coordinator at Jacobs.

On February 19, 2016, the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) hosted the Women in Industry Conference at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, TX.  The Women in Industry Conference aimed to encourage women across the Gulf Coast to take advantage of these career opportunities and explore options in the petrochemical industry.  Attendees were able to hear from women currently working in the petrochemical industry while networking with industry representatives and educational administrators.

The target audience for this event included high school students attending or interested in attending Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, community college students, Community College Program Directors, Workforce Solutions Participants, and sponsors from the owner community.   Read more » about Industrial Leader Jacobs Connects with Women Interested in Construction Careers at Conference

All over the country, there are significantly different headlines about women in the construction industry. There seems to be a mixed message. Some stories focus on the fact that women are finding fantastic careers in construction while others suggest it is too difficult for women to gain traction in the business.

For example, the Hartford Courant recently reported "Progress Still Slow For Women Breaking Into Construction Jobs":

The barriers to women working in construction are many, advocates say — stereotypes about women's abilities from employers and co-workers, schools and families steering girls toward more traditional women's jobs, the lack of paid days off, and sexual harassment.    Read more » about Construction Welcomes Women to the Workforce

A week before travelling to Florida to compete in the ABC 2016 National Craft Championships (NCC), five Houston-area welders spoke with me about how they became interested in welding, their career aspirations, and what they love about their craft.  Some of their sponsors and instructors were also on hand to comment as they met at the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) Performance Verification Center for a final briefing before the competition.

Jose Morua, father of three, works full time for Jacobs in addition to taking classes in the welding program at Lee College.  He decided to study welding after a friend encouraged him to go to school to better himself.   Read more » about Houston-Area Welding Competitors Speak Prior to the National Craft Championships [VIDEO]

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) proudly announces that three Harris County craft workers won medals at the 29th annual National Craft Championships. Lindsey Irvine won the gold medal in the pipe welding competition while Michael Noschese and Jose Morua won the gold medal and silver medals respectively in the structural welding competition. All three competitors were honored during the Careers in Construction awards ceremony on March 4.

“The dedication to top-notch construction, quality craftsmanship and world-class safety exhibited by this year’s award winners is truly impressive,” said 2016 ABC National Chair David Chapin, president of Willmar Electric Service, Lincoln, Nebraska. “With the workforce shortage facing the construction industry, each of this year’s competitors and finalists will play an important role in the future of merit shop construction. Our member companies are fortunate to employ such skilled craftsmen and women.”    Read more » about Harris County Welders Make History in Winning National Awards at ABC’s National Craft Championships

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

Some want to complete the fence along the United States–Mexico border. Others cry for higher quotas of H-1B visas. The debate goes on and on. Regardless of the immigration politics and law at stake, I sought the answer to an economic question: Does the United States benefit from immigrant workers?

The data point to one conclusion: Immigrants add to gross domestic product. Drywall and ceiling contractors could build more profitably and contribute to building a better country if they could put undocumented foreigners to work.    Read more » about Do Immigrant Workers Help the Economy?

Marek Dallas Division President John Hinson wrote the following President’s Message for AWCI's Construction Dimension magazine. Hinson is the 2015-2016 President of AWCI.

Brothers John, Bill (the AWCI’s president in 1984) and Ralph Marek founded Marek Brothers Company in 1938. While John and Bill have passed on to be with our Lord, Ralph, 90, is still with us. At a recent managers’ meeting we were honored when Ralph stopped in to say hello and express his gratitude for all of the team’s hard work at Marek.

Ralph is a special man, and it was an inspiring moment. He remembers the smallest details about each one of us. He asks about our wives, our kids, our progress and concerns. He makes each one of us feel important to him.

Do you make people feel important? Do you make it easy for people to work with you? When you express your ideas, do you do it in a respectful way?    Read more » about Pay a Little Respect