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

How do you ensure workers sharpen their skill sets? It’s a problem common in regions lacking unions and their great training programs. Most open shops can’t afford to develop craft training on their own. It’s time-consuming. It’s expensive.

So, how can it get done?

One idea comes from Houston. The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) has several high-profile projects, including some for the Texas Children’s Hospital. C3 has a novel approach: Owners require all players to have training programs in place. It’s a prerequisite to bid a C3 job.

“The wisdom behind what we’re doing is that it’s owner-driven,” says Chuck Gremillion, C3’s executive director. “The owner says, ‘This is my ballgame. These are my rules.’”    Read more » about Trained to Win

The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) hosted a town hall on Friday for leaders in the education and construction industries to learn about and discuss ways in which they can partner to bring workforce opportunities to students and build the construction craft workforce of the future.  The UpSkill Houston Town Hall: Build Your Facilities and Build Your Community was held in the GHP’s beautiful new space in Partnership Tower, where regional superintendents, college and university chancellors, and construction contractor executives and owners enjoyed a light lunch while listening to the program before offering their own comments and questions to the panel at the end.

Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, kicked off the program by welcoming the group.   Read more » about GHP Hosts Forum to Discuss Partnership Between Business and Education to Build Construction Workforce

A construction company in Washington state faces stiff fines for "numerous repeated safety violations" that reportedly "exposed workers to potential falls and other hazards at a residential construction site." The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries slapped J&I Construction with fines resulting from multiple violations. Now the company owes more than $200,000.

More from the Insurance Journal:

The three violations, each with a penalty of $42,000, were for not providing proper fall protection to three employees who were working on the top edge of a wall nearly 20 feet off the ground, and the company has been cited two other times for the same issue, according to L&I.

J & I was also cited for three repeat violations for not having a plan outlining the fall hazards on the specific job, exposing workers to unguarded wall openings that they could fall through and for not ensuring that workers didn’t stand or step on the top of a self-supporting ladder. Each violation carries a penalty of $21,000.

The company was cited for two additional repeat violations for not having railings on open-sided stairs to protect employees from falls ($5,600), and for not ensuring that employees wore hard hats where there was a danger of flying or falling objects ($4,200).    Read more » about Construction Firm Hit with Major Fine for Safety Violations

Amid high unemployment in areas like the Midwest where people have in almost no way been encouraged to retrain themselves and while there are calls for increases in the minimum wage for jobs in fast food, the construction industry is offering good paying jobs but hurting for workers in a big way.

There are a variety of reasons for this, naturally. The problem is especially bad in North Texas, reports the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas-Fort Worth leads the country in construction of both houses and apartments. The lack of skilled labor is adding months to construction timelines and helping to inflate property prices in Big D and beyond.    Read more » about Residential Construction Seeks a Million Workers

A huge part of my job as the executive director of the Construction Career Collaborative is to spread the word about exactly what we are doing and what kind of progress we are making. 

That’s accomplished in a variety of ways including stories on Construction Citizen and speaking to groups of contractors, owners, and others. We also spread the word by doing news interviews with media outlets like the Texas Tribune and writing op-eds that appear in the Houston Chronicle

Over the last several months, we’ve added a new way for you to stay up to date with all the latest developments surrounding our movement: The C3 News Brief. 

The C3 News Brief is published once every two weeks and is delivered straight to your email inbox. In it, you'll find all the latest news about C3, information on upcoming events, recognition of C3 accredited employers, links to our training database, and updated facts about the Construction Career Collaborative.   Read more » about Stay Up to Date With the C3 News Brief

Two markedly different approaches to addressing workforce challenges are now featured in
Texas Tribune
, a statewide nonprofit news organization. Reporter Neena Satija took an in-depth look at both the Construction Career Collaborative, or C3, in Houston as well as the Workers Defense Project in Austin.

Workers Defense has earned significant mainstream media coverage in Austin and nationally – in fact, the New York Times called it “a union in spirit” – likely because it is often controversial and is seen by many as adversarial with business. C3 has been covered extensively by Construction Citizen but has seen less coverage in venues like the Houston Chronicle, for example.  

The story in the Tribune says Workers Defense seems to have “more teeth” than C3 and notes the advocacy group has often partnered with government to help achieve its goals.   Read more » about Texas Tribune Highlights Emerging Workforce Initiatives in Houston and Austin

One of the things President-elect Donald Trump did not stress during his successful campaign for the White House is the need for those who are out of work to be trained for new careers. In fact, it is difficult to find any example of Trump discussing skills training at all. Any mention of workforce development and craft training was absent from Trump's major speeches on jobs and the economy. 

That is perhaps because his entire economic message – a message that resonated in states that made the difference for him in the Rust Belt – was centered on the idea that if you do not have a job it is because someone else took it from you. 

Trump’s political argument went something like this: If you don’t have a job, it’s because an unfair trade deal sent your gig to another country or an undocumented immigrant stole the job that you would hold here in this nation if an “illegal” wasn’t doing it instead of you.    Read more » about Trump Infrastructure Plan Should Include Skills Training

We recently attended a celebration and thank you party in the offices of the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) in Partnership Tower.

The GHP honored and thanked those craft workers responsible for the build out of their offices designed by Kirksey Architects, built by Harvey Builders and a host of specialty subcontractors like Marek, Trio Electric, and Clunn.

The space, designed to be the “front door” for business visitors to Houston, is home to the largest business organization in the fourth largest city in the US. It will be a heavily utilized space and is designed to accommodate a variety of events from meetings of its large Board of Directors, to hosting foreign dignitaries, hosting events such as the elected officials appreciation party, and hosting corporate leaders from around the world.    Read more » about Who Built It? Celebration at Partnership Tower

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