Guest Blog by
Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership, UpSkill Houston
Our city’s craft professionals have built Houston – a global city and a city of opportunity. Through C3’s innovative work, the industry continues to create a more sustainable and skilled craft workforce that is essential for the industry and our city. After disasters, the region’s construction industry steps up, leads, and rebuilds the city – making it better and more resilient.
The COVID-19 pandemic, its economic downturn, and events of 2020 have been challenging for our region, yet they provide an opportunity for us to come together and make Houston stronger while creating economic opportunities for our residents. During months of uncertainty, many commercial projects were put on hold, delayed, or suspended. Craft professionals, however, were on the front line during the pandemic, continuing the work of completing projects and improving their skills. We also know that companies who invested in their employees during this time will have greater flexibility and agility in a rapidly changing economy.
Unfortunately, during the pandemic, many Houstonians were displaced from their jobs and many young people who graduated from high school did not pursue post-secondary education. By current estimates, there are more than 200,000 unemployed individuals in the region. The employment effects of the pandemic have disproportionately impacted low-income families, women, and communities of color. The data also indicate individuals with low levels of educational attainment (i.e., less than a four-year college degree) will face significant challenges finding pathways back into the workforce. As a result of the pandemic, many of these displaced individuals and young people will struggle to climb the economic ladder as they face limited opportunities for good jobs.
In my work with construction leaders over the last several years, it is clear the construction industry has invented one of the most powerful social programs of all – a good job as a craft professional. While government can create an enabling infrastructure, it doesn’t create jobs or ensure opportunity. The private sector, through our free enterprise system, creates jobs and supports a growing economy and shared prosperity. Houston’s construction sector has provided economic opportunity for many years by employing and upskilling many of our residents.
In the past, construction firms have partnered with United Way of Greater Houston’s THRIVE network and Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions to screen, prepare and support new pipelines of talent into the industry (e.g., Women in Construction, Work Faith Connection, SER Jobs, Houston Area Urban League). Through the industry’s commitment to upskilling, many of these individuals have thrived and prospered as craft professionals. Building off this previous success, we can work together and connect the dots with community-based organizations and workforce partners that collectively engage with, support and train low-income families, women, communities of color, and young adults.
If we take this opportunity to partner in new ways and at scale (with employers, community partners, and others), we can create new and more diverse talent pipelines by preparing Houston residents with the skills for success in the construction industry. As Houston’s economy begins its recovery and continues its expansion, the construction industry can play a vital role in helping Houston and its residents get back on track.
Peter Beard serves as senior vice president of Regional Workforce Development at the Greater Houston Partnership and leads its UpSkill Houston initiative.
Angela Robbins Taylor
I had coffee with the president of a C3 Accredited Employer last week. We talked about how to create a sustainable craft workforce. As you know, that is the heart of the mission of C3. For years we have continued to face the diminishing ranks of those who want to enter careers in craft trades. This workforce shortage problem will continue to grow until we change how we think about and handle our workforce. Investing in this change is a long game, not a short-term stop gap, and is the mission of all C3 Accredited Employers and Owners. Even more than mission, it is the legacy each of us has the opportunity to leave on our industry.
The solution to the workforce problem requires that we solve the talent pipeline crisis by shifting our mindset to view talent as an asset to our bottom line. Just like materials require a supply chain so does talent. The investment needed to truly impact the talent shortage will require a collaborative approach where commercial construction identifies critical positions, creates a common vocabulary around job competencies, and collectively forecasts demand. As C3 continues to consult with Accredited Employers to create competency maps, we see that critical positions are often overlapping from trade to trade and vocabulary is already similar. Believe me when I tell you, there is common language around the threshold skills needed to enter the industry and what pre-employment skills are required to be successful. Now it is time for a collaborative approach to determine ongoing demand and how to approach the suppliers of talent to create a pipeline that produces high quality and is ready to tackle the unique cyclic nature of construction company hiring.
C3's initial strategy has been to give companies the ability to retain workers through investment in craft training career paths that engage workers in building successful careers. We talk about talent management and the lifecycle of talent because we realize that requiring a training program and an OSHA 10/30 certificate isn't going to instantly create sustainability in the talent pipeline. In fact, it does little to increase the number of potential candidates coming into the industry. In reality, having a training program with an identified career path is pre-work for sustainability.
Let's face it, we aren't very enticing to the digital native demographic currently residing in our high school and community college classrooms. Employing new technologies like 3D simulation and virtual reality to take the job site to the classroom not only engages learners but is also more cost effective as it limits material cost and consumption but allows for more repetition for skill development. Challenging how we teach, and working with school districts to make sure the best knowledge provider is in the classroom, which may not be the industry Subject Matter Expert, are conversations we need to begin having now. There are many ways we can grow our image and change how we attract new talent and we must stop settling for those who are temporarily looking for work instead of actively seeking careers. By raising the bar on what we expect from our entry-level workforce we raise the standard of excellence for our industry. If we fail to address these changes in sourcing and preparing our talent pipeline, we can anticipate that our shortfalls in workforce will just continue to grow.
The good news in all of this is that we have the opportunity to do something truly significant for construction. It is great to have a successful career but better to have a career of significance, for that is where truly great things happen. C3's talent pipeline work is significant work. What is our overall impact on our world? We have within our grasp the ability to change the economic landscape of Houston. In the United States, approximately 34 million people live in poverty. Commercial construction offers the opportunity to break this poverty cycle by providing careers that offer an essential skillset leading to a living wage. Living wages allow professional craft workers to provide for themselves and their families. This creates a legacy in that family where children achieve even beyond their parents and cycles get broken.
This is the long game of sustainability in our industry and our community. This is the legacy I saw for me. This is why I am C3. Tell me your why by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org or tagging us on social media with #myC3why
I love school. Those closest to me might even say it is one of my favorite places. Schools are full of potential, dreams, and hope for the future. They are alive with possibility. They represent the pipeline of future workforce applicants. They are our supply chain.
Fortunately, my position at Construction Career Collaborative (C3) affords me plenty of exposure to the future of our workforce. C3 currently partners with local school districts, community colleges and technical schools. Each partnership is geared at helping them to build a pipeline designed to meet the need of commercial construction. As you can imagine, each of these partners are asking for guidance.
The partnerships with local school districts and community colleges allow us to create pathways that train our prospective workforce before they arrive at our job sites. Creative programs that offer pre-apprenticeship or earn and learn programs benefit from pairing state and federal workforce dollars with training programs to put the employer at the advantage. Enabling employers to clearly identify employability and technical skills before entering the hiring process produces stronger recruiting and sets up companies to succeed at retention by placing higher quality, skilled, entry-level candidates into internal craft training programs and career paths.
Currently C3 serves on the advisory board of seven school districts. It takes a lot of time and effort to coordinate with each district, and there are more seeking our input every year. We have become a highly sought expert voice on commercial construction workforce needs. But we do not want to do this alone. We want you and your company to help drive the workforce of tomorrow.
We are excited to announce our newest volunteer committee, the C3 Educational Advisory Committee. This committee will focus on enriching our current partnerships and pursuing other key opportunities with school districts, community colleges and trade schools. We are actively seeking members to volunteer on this committee and serve as the voice of industry for our local training partners. If you are interested, please contact me at 713.999.1032 or email@example.com. Our first meeting will be in August, so don’t delay.
As most leaders in the construction industry would agree, there is a significant shortage of skilled workers in the craft trades today. In fact, according to a survey conducted by AGC of America and Autodesk in the summer of 2018, 80% of construction companies responded that they were having difficulty finding qualified workers. It is a multifaceted issue, but as Baby Boomers retire, they are not being replaced by young people interested in a career in the craft trades. The result of which is the current state, an unsustainable craft workforce. To put it bluntly, the construction industry is losing the battle for talent to other industries.
So how do we change this narrative? C3 has the formula, and it is not a mystery. The construction industry must offer what other industries offer – a career – not a job. Young people today want to work for companies that value them as employees, that provide opportunity for growth with skills training linked to a career path and the ability to work autonomously. Couple that with the training to work safely and a career in the construction industry gets the attention of folks considering their career alternatives.
Today’s young people are no different than those in the generations before them. They want to work for companies, no matter the industry, that provide them a future where they are in control of their career.
As I have stated many times in presentations, it is not a coincidence that the great majority of the most successful construction companies have robust workforce development programs. Leaders of these companies will also tell you that their people are their greatest asset and the key to their success. These companies have achieved the status of an employer of choice. This means that their reputation of being an excellent employer attracts candidates to them. It also means that they most likely have fewer “people problems”.
C3 provides the guidance and consulting services to assist your company as it develops the blueprint that will help it attract and develop the talent needed to grow and achieve greater success. C3 can help your construction company become an employer of choice.
Contact us. It might be the best decision that you make in 2020.
For additional information, please contact Angela Robbins-Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 713.999.1032
One of the most important determinants of an organization’s success is the perception of its brand in the marketplace. A company’s “brand” is defined as the perception of a product, service, experience or organization. Brand in the construction industry is heavily influenced by a Contractor’s or Specialty Contractor’s reputation for delivering quality work on time and within budget.
There are obviously many factors that influence a construction company’s reputation and brand, but none is more important than the quality, skill and dependability of its workforce. Deductive reasoning should lead one to the conclusion that a construction employer’s investment in proven talent management practices, which includes the safety and skills training of its craft workforce, will have a direct impact on its ability to safely deliver high quality work in a timely manner. This translates to greater demand for that company’s services, revenue growth, higher profits, a great reputation and a positive perception of its brand by the consumers of its services, its employees and job seekers considering their future employer.
Assuming that the importance of building a positive brand makes sense, let’s identify objective ways to measure a brand’s impact. Some metrics to consider might include the following:
Of course, a positive brand should translate to fewer workforce and project-related issues, more project opportunities, revenue growth and greater profitability, but it requires a strong commitment from the construction employer. C3 is here to help construction companies build their brands with workforce development consulting services that are free of charge for C3 Accredited Employers. To date, C3 has consulted with many, many companies - large and small, Contractors and Specialty Contractors. We can help your company too!
How is your craft workforce impacting your company’s reputation and brand?
For additional information, please contact C3 Associate Director, Angela Robbins, via email at email@example.com or by phone at (713)999-1032.
Without a doubt, the current health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is both tragic and devastating for the USA and the world. Just a few months ago, America was experiencing record-low unemployment rates not seen in 50 years, which translated to huge demand for construction services, especially in Texas. How quickly and tragically things have changed.
While the construction industry has been deemed essential and has continued to work, businesses in the hospitality, restaurant and travel industries have been clobbered resulting in large scale layoffs not seen since the Great Depression. These workers need employment now, and the result of the pandemic may trigger a shift in the workforce, a “new normal”.
This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for construction companies as people who have lost their jobs in other industries consider new careers. These unemployed workers will be looking for stable careers in growth industries, with companies that know how to attract, screen, onboard, develop and manage talent. This represents an opportunity to access a pool of talented people never seen before. Construction is definitely a growth industry, but is your company prepared for this windfall of mature, talented and hungry workers?
While the solution requires a long-term commitment to strong talent management practices, C3 is capable of helping your company develop the practices that will enable it to attract and develop high quality candidates, the people that will take it to the next level. C3’s consulting services are free of charge for C3 Accredited Employers. While the COVID-19 pandemic is requiring C3 personnel to office from home, our People Development Professionals are continuing to consult with Accredited Employers via Zoom video calls, and we have helped many companies, both Contractors and Specialty Contractors, develop job descriptions, evaluation programs and craft training tied to a career path.
If you are ready to launch your company forward toward the “new normal”, please contact C3 Associate Director, Angela Robbins, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 713.999.1032.
Be safe! Stay healthy!
During these trying times created by the COVID-19 virus, it struck me just how important the construction industry is, and specifically the craft workers that build our structures. It is not a coincidence that those that make up the construction industry are considered essential along with first responders, healthcare workers and grocery store employees, among others. The people that fill these critical positions are the foundation of our society. If you aren’t sure of that, just imagine the chaos that would reign without them.
Too often, the construction craft worker is taken for granted by those that use, occupy and benefit from the buildings and structures they construct. Imagine a society without the construction craft worker. Imagine a society without highways, office buildings, hospitals, chemical plants, schools, churches, arenas and shopping centers. Without the craft professional, complex structures such as these would not exist.
Take a bow Mr./Ms. electrician, plumber, welder, millwright, rebar rodbuster, concrete finisher, carpenter, sheet rocker, roofer, painter, landscaper, tile setter, acoustical ceiling installer, fire proofer, glazer, HVAC technician, sheet metal craftsperson, steel erector, cabinetmaker, heavy equipment operator and many more. You are the rocks of our society. You are the professionals that build America! We are proud to call you our neighbor! You are essential! THANK YOU!!
As Construction Career Collaborative (C3) approaches the tenth anniversary of its founding, it is important to reflect on its history and provide an update on its progress toward achieving its goal of a safe, skilled and sustainable craft workforce for the commercial construction industry.
When the idea of C3 was conceived ten years ago, the construction industry was struggling mightily to attract people to careers in the craft trades. The root cause of the problem could be traced back to human resource practices driven by the need to be low bid in order to win construction projects. It was not uncommon to find companies that did not employ W2 employees, but instead had 1099 independent subcontractors. Since these craft workers were not employees:
• They were typically paid by the piece, and not by the hour, which meant that they did not earn overtime pay if they worked more than 40 hours in a seven-day period.
• They did not receive skills training.
• They were not protected by workers compensation insurance in the event that they were injured while working on the job.
• There was no construction career path.
• In addition, craft wages had remained flat for 30 years.
Craft workers were not treated as a valued asset, but instead as an expendable commodity. No wonder the industry could not attract the interest of a young person coming out of high school, or an individual considering a career change. Commercial construction’s human resource practices were not competitive with other industries pursuing the same candidates.
Enter C3. Like its name implies, C3 is a collaborative effort of building owners, union and merit shop contractors and specialty contractors, industry associations and design professionals seeking to establish a sustainable craft workforce with competitive workforce development practices focused on safety and skills training linked to construction career paths.
Fast forward 10 years and C3 has truly begun to change the conversation. Craft workers employed by C3 accredited companies are hourly employees that earn overtime pay. These same craft workers have earned at minimum an OSHA 10 credential and many have an OSHA 30 credential, or both. C3 Accredited Employers that employ these craft workers commit to provide skills training that is linked to construction career paths.
The proof is in these numbers:
• 278 Accredited Employers
• 102 Accredited Employers (and counting) that have earned a C3 Craft Training Endorsement
• 47 C3 Projects
• 27,343 craft workers in C3 Training Database
• 18,276 craft workers in the C3 Training Database that have earned either an OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 credential or both
• .81 - aggregate Total Recordable Incident Rate for all C3 Projects;
o 333% better than the national average for non-residential construction
The above numbers are also supported by a changing narrative pertaining to careers in the construction industry. What was once perceived as a stop-gap job is now being considered as a possible career by many people. Wages are growing because the demand for skilled craft workers is great. Career & Technical Education programs in local school districts are providing curriculum for those students interested in a career in certain construction trades such as carpentry, HVAC and electrical, among others.
Finally, and most importantly, C3 is here to assist construction companies as they implement the workforce development practices that make them competitive. In fact, C3 provides consulting services free of charge to its Accredited Employers to guide them along the way. C3 is also launching a five-hour workforce development class entitled Driving Business Results Through Talent Management later this month and each month thereafter throughout 2020. This class will share with attendees the best practices of industry leaders for how to attract, onboard, develop, evaluate and promote employees.
If your company is not yet involved with C3, or it is but you want to learn more, please contact C3 at email@example.com.
By Angela Robbins
We wanted to give you the real answers about C3’s classification of Pre-Program for Craft Training Endorsement. Here are the top six questions we hear most often from our pre-program companies.
1. What does it mean if we are Pre-Program?
Pre-Program is simply a categorization that shows your company’s level of progress toward designing, developing and implementing its craft training programs. C3 Craft Training Endorsement has three levels for companies that already have developed and implemented craft training programs : Recognized, Leader and Champion. If a company does not have a documented or implemented craft training program they are categorized as Pre-Program.
2. What is my company required to do if we are in the Pre-Program category?
Being Pre-Program allows a company 12 months to design, develop and implement a craft training program. Generally, this includes formalizing and documenting on-the-job training or other craft training that is taking place already. When the 12 months is over the company should be prepared to elevate to Recognized Level Endorsement or even higher.
3. What is my company required to provide C3 during my 12 months of development time?
C3 has four (4) milestones for the Pre-Program company to meet in order to remain in compliance throughout the development period.
Absolutely, we are available to help you throughout the entire process. Our People Development department has the templates and knowledge to help any company move out of Pre-Program to endorsed in craft training. We are available as often as you need us… just schedule a meeting with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Great! What’s all that consulting cost our company?
That’s the best part! C3 believes in you, your company, and your craft workers. Therefore, the support that we provide is included in your C3 Accredited Employer annual fee. You need only to activate the service by contacting us at peopledev@C3.org. And you can keep using our services even after you earn an endorsement to grow and enhance your training programs. We are available to any C3 Accredited Employer who needs us. Our goal is to assist your company in any way possible as we all work together to create a safer, more skilled and sustainable craft workforce.
6. What happens if our company misses milestones or doesn’t complete the pre-program requirement?
It is our sincerest hope that you never miss a milestone. However, should you find yourself in this predicament, we urge you to contact us immediately and share your plan to remedy the issue. Should you fall behind, and we don’t hear from you at a milestone checkpoint, we have a non-compliance process that will allow you 45 days to regain compliance, while also working to meet the next milestone. The 45 days will begin as of the date that you receive an email communication from the C3 People Development Team indicating that you have been placed on non-compliance status. If you don’t get back on track within the 45 days, you will be placed on Conditional Status and current project managers will be notified that you have been disabled in our C3 Craft Training Database and are out of compliance with our program. Conditional Status prohibits your company from participating on C3 Projects.
While the program may seem daunting or even a bit overwhelming at first, we are here to assist you to make the process easier and more productive for your employees. And, our People Development Team has proven its value to many companies that we have already helped. Ready to create and implement a quality craft training program for your team? Reach out today and let’s get started.
Construction Industry Institute (CII)
Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)
National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)