Constructor - July/August 2013 - (Page 13)

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Turning Construction Jobs into Careers WHILE IT IS DIFFICULT FOR MANY in the construction community who are struggling BY PAUL DIEDERICH AGC PRESIDENT If we really want a robust pipeline of well-trained, highly competent new workers, we need to find a way to create a construction market that allows firms performing private-sector work to pay good salaries and offer great benefits. to fi nd enough work to imagine, one of the challenges facing our industry will increasingly be the lack of skilled workers. After decades of dismantling vocational education programs in favor of college preparation, the retirement of many in our aging workforce and more recent years fi lled with endless news stories about construction job losses, there aren’t a lot of young, trained and available skilled workers waiting to be hired once demand really heats up. The good news is there are steps we can take as an industry, and as a broader society, to rebuild our skills pipeline for construction. Those steps include establishing new vocational education programs, making it easier for skilled construction workers to come from abroad and promoting the many benefits of working in construction. The bad news, however, is some of the other steps we as an industry need to take will require more than buying advertising and working to establish new school programs. If we really want to address the pending shortage of skilled workers, we need to make the kind of fundamental changes required to turn construction jobs into construction careers. In many parts of the country, high school students who complete vocational education programs can get high-paying positions, with benefits, in a host of manufacturing jobs. In too many places, however, those same graduates would make less money, and enjoy fewer benefits if they decided to instead pursue construction jobs. That is because fiercely competitive market conditions combined with owners eager to get the best possible deal make it virtually impossible for many fi rms to succeed while paying the kind of salaries and offering the kind of benefits needed to make construction the preferred career for many of our best and brightest graduates. If we really want a robust pipeline of well-trained, highly competent new workers, we need to fi nd a way to create a construction market that allows fi rms performing private-sector work to pay good salaries and offer great benefits. You can read about some innovative steps member fi rms are taking to do just that in “Hire Power” on Page 18. But even if all our member fi rms woke up tomorrow and decided profits-be-damned, let’s do this anyway, the fact is there are many other, less scrupulous fi rms out there that would use the opportunity to undercut their now more expensive competition. That is why the best way to transform construction jobs into construction careers is by working with private sector owners to request and pay for what we like to call “sustainable” workforce practices. If owners want to expect top-notch construction performed on budget and on schedule, they must be prepared to say they want to select fi rms that are treating — and compensating — their employees like the highly skilled professionals they are. Instead of settling for the lowest common denominator, owners should set a higher bar for the quality and skills of the workers building their new structures. Getting owners to understand the wisdom behind making these new investments will not be easy. Fortunately, we don’t have to start from scratch, as a number of AGC chapters have already begun working with ownership groups to raise the bar on worker pay and benefits. Our Houston chapter, for example, has spent years working to build its region-wide Construction Career Collaborative program, which brings together owners, contractors and subcontractors to fi nd ways to transform construction jobs into construction careers. As we move forward, we all need to realize that we are playing a long game. It will take time to bring owners on board. With construction unemployment rates at 10.8 CONT’D on page 16 J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 3 | 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Constructor - July/August 2013

Editor's Note
President's Message
CEO's Letter
Hire Power
Innovative Ideas Modernize 78-Year-Old Bridge
DeConstructing Social Media
Business Fraud
Challenge Accepted
Stand-Out Safety Program Earns Opp Construction Grand Award
2013 AGC/Willis Construction Safety Excellence Award Winners
2013 Liberty Mutual Marvin M. Black Excellence in Partnering Awards
Money Isn't Everything
AGC in Action
Wall of Wind
Weathering the Storm
Green, Safe and Fast
Leading the Way
Summing it Up
Tall Orders
Going Interstate? Go NASCLA.
Do the Math
Technology Toolbox
Technology Toolbox
Bond-Readiness Program
Legislative and Regulatory News
Book Review
Upcoming Events
2013 Regional Resource Guide
Member and Chapter News
Index to Advertisers
Final Inspection

Constructor - July/August 2013