Cornerstone - Spring 2015 - (Page 25)

Reclaiming the Workforce BY CATHERINE BEZMAN, AGC HOUSTON FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS, the commercial construction industry has experienced a steady decrease and significant shortage of skilled construction workers. The shrinking pipeline of qualified labor affects a broad area of our industry-including suppliers, manufacturers, owners, operators and contractors. In response, numerous industry-wide initiatives have sprouted across the country, which tout the benefits of a career in the construction industry. In addition, companies have focused on wages, salaries and bonuses to keep and attract qualified and experienced workers. Reclaiming a workforce that left the construction industry during the recent economic crisis remains front and center for many companies facing a shortage of qualified employees. Petro and chemical, bio and alternative energy, along with industrial and manufacturing sectors, remain strong competitors, as they lure construction employees with a more defined career path. As a result, construction companies have created strategies to retain their talent. In an October 2014 national survey, conducted by AGC of America, 83 percent of respondents stated that they were having trouble finding craft workers and 61 percent reported difficulty in finding and retaining qualified construction professionals. According to Ken Simonson, Chief Economist for AGC of America, this "represents a major shift in hiring practices because they are not hiring people who are unemployed; they have to find new workers from other industries or attract people from other construction firms." On January 22, 2015 at AGC Houston's annual chapter meeting, Simonson addressed the national and regional trends affecting construction costs, hiring and compensation. He stated that companies have had to increase base pay for professional positions to retain or recruit employees. That morning, AGC of America held a press conference about its Spring 2015 According to the report, 80 percent of construction firms planned to expand their payrolls in 2015, indicating that "most contractors are optimistic about the year ahead and ready to expand, but will have to cope with challenges including worker shortages and regulatory burdens." annual "Ready to Hire Again: Construction Hiring and Business Outlook," which is based on data collected from 900 firms. According to the report, 80 percent of construction firms planned to expand their payrolls in 2015, indicating that "most contractors are optimistic about the year ahead and ready to expand, but will have to cope with challenges including worker shortages and regulatory burdens." More than 46 percent of respondents claimed to have also increased base pay for craft workers. AGC Houston members also heard from Jeff Robinson, President of Personnel Administration Services-a company specializing in surveys of open shop construction companies. He underscored the overall pay increase by nearly four percent for wages related to carpenters, laborers, pipefitters and heavy equipment operators. Robinson also reviewed base pay, total compensation and benefits trends for professional employees who work in the Gulf Coast construction industry. He underscored the "importance of each pay element;" and while "base pay is the anchor," it includes "variable pay to help retain and motivate employees." Robinson also recommended that companies focus "on those employees and job families that have fallen below the going pay rate," particularly as the pool of craft workers is being squeezed by massive industrial projects along the Gulf Coast states. To reclaim a sector of the American middle class that has slowly dissolved and fragmented, AGC Houston leaders strategically formed the Construction Career Collaborative in 2013. The 501(c) organization is an alliance of dedicated owners, contractors and special contractors providing craft and OSHA safety training, paying an hourly wage rate with applicable taxes and providing workers' compensation. To date, 52 companies are accredited C3 employers, helping solidify a fragmented industry and reestablish the benefits of a career in commercial construction. This critical alliance has led to the creation of eight major C3 projects for Texas Children's Hospital, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. While wage wars and a shortage of labor remain critical issues to the construction industry, employment gains are brightening the picture. Simonson reported that construction firms added jobs in 40 states from December 2013 to December 2014. Construction employment is "expanding at more than double the rate for total nonfarm payroll jobs." He also noted that "contractors are optimistic about their hiring plan as they expect demand in most market segments to grow this year." As projects continue to increase so must construction firms build and invest in their employee pool. Companies that offer competitive wages, on-the-job training, and professional development and mentorship programs are helping to improve and grow their workforce pipeline. ■ 25

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cornerstone - Spring 2015

From the Chairman of the Board, Bill Scott, III
From the President/CEO, Jerry Nevlud
From the President/CEO, Jerry Nevlud
From the 2013 & 2014 Chairman of the Board, Steve Mechler
From the 2013 & 2014 Chairman of the Board, Steve Mechler
Derivative Sovereign Immunity for Contractors on Government Projects
Derivative Sovereign Immunity for Contractors on Government Projects
Nurturing the Next Generation of AGC Houston Leaders
Nurturing the Next Generation of AGC Houston Leaders
Past Events
Past Events
Member News
Member News
Reclaiming The Workforce
Reclaiming The Workforce
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com

Cornerstone - Spring 2015

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