Constructor - May/June 2017 - 15
According to AGC of America, many firms continue to face shortages of available qualified workers as
they try to keep pace with growing construction demand. The association urges federal, state and local
officials to act on measures outlined in the association's Workforce Development plan to increase career
and technical education opportunities, especially for high school students.
RECRUITING THE NEXT GENERATION
The initiative is gaining ground at a time when 73 percent of
construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2017 as contractors expect public and private sector demand to grow in all market
segments, according to survey results released by AGC of America
and Sage Construction and Real Estate earlier this year.
Despite this general optimism, many firms report they remain
worried about the availability of qualified workers.
One of the primary objectives of I Build America is to recruit
the next generation of construction men and women. But doing
so requires a different approach, Moss says. Video has played a
substantial role in reaching a younger audience.
"This generation grew up on smartphones and the internet, and
they want to see things visually," Moss says. "You have to tell their
stories through the web and through social media and through
different channels, and that is how you recruit them."
The initiative's career videos, which tell stories of individual
men and women who have found value working in the construction field, have hit home with that demographic because they give
viewers a chance to gravitate toward the story they can relate to
the most, he says.
The videos are unscripted accounts of real people, and they
capture the raw emotion that comes out when someone is talking
about a passion. Showing these stories, not just telling them, is
key, Moss says. "That's where our marketing secret sauce has really
pushed us along," he says.
Outreach with specific states and groups has been key to recruitment, too. For example, I Build America worked with the entire state
of Wyoming to grow its movement there. The initiative worked
with about 30 different contractor associations, three different
trade schools and about 15 different contractors to put together
the story of construction for Wyoming.
Rydin recognized from the beginning the importance of recruiting, which is why he has led the effort that includes putting together
recruiting kits, tools and children's readers for schools and trade
networks so that representatives could use them when visiting
"When they go out and do presentations in high schools, they
don't have to stand there and do a boring 30-minute PowerPoint.
Now they can go there and show videos that are cool and engaging,
and really what the next generation wants to see."
Now construction groups in California want I Build America to
do the same thing for their state, and state AGC chapters and other
construction branches are requesting recruiting kits.
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"The goal is to give the tools to the people who are actually
going to do the recruiting, and that's the companies, the associations and the networks," Moss says.
PROMOTING VALUE, BUILDING PRIDE
The other two goals of I Build America are to help show pride
in the industry and to help the general public better understand
the value of construction.
To that end, the initiative has been employing influencers who
can help build the brand organically, instead of just buying a bunch
of paid advertisements to promote it. I Build America reached out
and formed partnerships with specific construction companies
AGC of America, of course, is one of those partners.
"The I Build America/AGC partnership is a really great benefit,"
says Brynn Huneke, director, diversity & inclusion, grassroots,
AGC of America, "not just for us as an association to help increase
members and individuals who work in this industry, but also for
the companies of AGC who are looking for ... those next leaders
of their organization."
Social media has been another component of the initiative. It
encourages people and companies to share pictures of themselves
and their projects through I Build America's Instagram page as a
way of showing pride in what they do.
"The fact that I Build America is using media and social media
to get the message out to young people that you can have a great
future in construction certainly fits hand in glove with the message that we've been trying to deliver to the public, to parents, to
policymakers that this is a terrific industry and provides unbound
opportunities for anybody who gets in it," says Steve Sandherr,
AGC's chief executive officer.
I Build America has also set up an e-commerce store with
branded merchandise such as hats, T-shirts and children's books
about construction to further the movement.
The AGC Education and Research Foundation
offers Workforce Development Scholarships to
students enrolled in accredited technical schools
or craft training programs in any discipline of
construction. The application period is now open.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2o3mRyt.
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