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?

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that he was going to propose a plan to Congress which would make “the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it.”  He stated the importance of education not just for kids, but also to offer the opportunity for everybody to become better trained so that they could receive better jobs, wages, and benefits.  During his annual State of the Union Address on January 20, he explained why he believes this plan is so important.  He said,

“To make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.

“America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.  But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.   Read more » about Can Free Community College Close the Skills Gap?

A report from a bipartisan panel of Texas lawmakers says companies that pretend their employees are independent subcontractors are undermining free markets and encouraging illegal immigration, among other serious problems. The practice of worker misclassification, as Construction Citizen has reported many times, happens when an employer intentionally skirts the law by paying workers as independent subcontractors when they meet the legal definition of employees and should be paid as such.

Preventing workers from being paid as employees denies them basic protections and costs taxpayers millions each year because employers are avoiding payroll taxes on that labor. Employers who follow the law are investing in a sustainable workforce, which is undermined by worker misclassification. Many of those ethical employers have urged lawmakers to do more to contain what they’ve called “a cancer” in the heart of the construction industry.

So, the Texas House Business and Industry Committee this past year took an in-depth look at the issue, including testimony from construction industry leaders, labor advocates and others who are united in combating misclassification. Read more » about Texas House Panel finds that worker misclassification “compromises free markets” and promotes “lawlessness”

Houston is growing, and with that growth comes jobs. More jobs mean a stronger economy. But as employers have a difficult time finding qualified, skilled workers, San Jacinto College steps in offering affordable training for the hard-to-fill middle-skills jobs.

San Jacinto College is working with UpSkill Houston, an industry-led workforce development program launched earlier this month by the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) aimed at filling the need for skilled workers in the Gulf Coast region. It is a blue print for leaders across the board – in the business community, at educational institutions, and within social service organizations – to build a quality workforce that meets employers’ needs. The initiative is supported by a $250,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase, the largest ever private-sector effort aimed at addressing the skills gap.    Read more » about San Jacinto College Helping to Fill Skills Gap

Construction Career Collaborative continues to gain momentum. During the past year, the Board of Directors of C3 approved 52 contractors as Accredited Employers, including nine general contractors and 43 specialty contractors. In addition, eight companies were approved as Project Participants, all of whom are working on the C3 project, Texas Children’s Hospital - The Woodlands. But, we still have much, much more work to do in order to achieve our goal of creating a sustainable workforce for the commercial construction industry. In fact, we have hardly started.

The next step in our growth is to hire an Operations Manager. We are looking for someone with experience in the construction industry that fits the qualifications listed in the job description below. If you, or someone you know, fit these qualifications, please consider this job opportunity.

Position Description for the C3 Operations Manager:
Construction Career Collaborative is an alliance of socially responsible Owners, Contractors and Specialty Contractors whose mission is to positively affect the issues facing the craft worker for the commercial construction industry.    Read more » about Construction Career Collaborative (C3) is Hiring!

Brent Smith, PhD gave a stimulating presentation titled Managing Talent: Myths and Realities at the 2014 fall conference hosted by Kiley Advisors.  Pat Kiley introduced the Rice University dean and professor with a mention of the companies who have hired Dr. Smith “to help them with talent development and leadership coaching” including ExxonMobil and other companies who are the “who’s who of the energy industry” as well as those from other industries such as Microsoft.

Dr. Smith began his presentation by confessing that his original training was not in business, but that in fact he is a psychologist.  He believes, however, that this training makes him “uniquely qualified to think through this issue of talent, because at the end of the day the factors that are most interesting to companies are the factors that are focused on the psychology related to attracting and retaining the best quality talent in the industry.”   Read more » about Rice University Professor Advises Managers to Reject Common Hiring Myths [VIDEO]

Educators will tell you there was a time, not all that long ago, when folks in higher education had very little interest in working collaboratively to address the workforce needs of businesses in their communities. Those days are over. The needs are so great that there is now a recognition that unprecedented teamwork is necessary for the good of businesses and their potential employees.

That was one of the major takeaways from my visit last week to San Jacinto College in Pasadena, where I talked with Chancellor Brenda Hellyer and Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives Allatia Harris. They were happy to discuss everything from stories of women succeeding in the skilled trades to building specific plans for employers to make sure they’ve got the workforce they require.    Read more » about Educators Say Addressing Workforce Requires a Whole New Mindset [VIDEO]

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]