Learning and Development Business Partner
A good friend once told me, in a moment of stubbornness, “You don’t get to ‘not’ right now.” As much as I did not enjoy hearing it, he was right! And as I reflect, I am glad that I heard him and chose to act instead of remaining comfortable in that moment. When it comes to business growth, your organization need not remain comfortable.
Learning and Development (L&D) is not an expendable resource, growth requires it. Ignoring L&D is the opposite of what the most successful organizations, especially in Houston’s Commercial Construction Industry, have documented as best business practices. Take a moment to think of the top five organizations in the commercial construction industry. Now think about what they have in common. Among other key factors, they have invested in and committed to L&D, from Laborer to Foreman, and beyond.
One of my favorite books, Jim Collins's Good to Great, compares various companies which have either exceeded expectations during turbulent times or failed and became extinct because of an inability to innovate and pivot. “The good to great companies understood a simple truth; tremendous power exists in the fact of [continuous] improvement and the delivery of results.” Yes, your organization may have been around a long time, but if you find yourself saying, “This is how we’ve always done it,” I’m sorry to tell you, but you may soon find yourself among the companies that become extinct.
In her 2017 book, Learning for the Long Run, Holly Burkett presents the “Seven Practices for Sustainability,” and in the middle is “Driving for Results, Continuously Improving”. At C3, one of our most recently launched programs is a course offered once a month entitled “Driving Business Results through Talent Management.” If you’ve taken the course, you know that when an organization places significance in, and practices, continuous improvement, it unlocks the door to greater revenue growth. And let’s be honest, revenue is one of the reasons your organization formed, isn’t it? Not the only reason for sure, but certainly one of the reasons!
W. Edward Deming believed in transformative learning and like Deming, I believe that when organizations encourage and support people's growth, it improves the business’ efforts toward the company’s growth and sustainability. At its core, Learning and Development is a commitment to innovation. High-performing organizations have a strong commitment to L&D, and they encourage pushing the limits beyond the status quo, continuously moving from what is to what can be.
“Well, we don’t want to pay to train them and then have them leave.” Sound familiar? Have you seen Amazon’s most recent campaigns? Amazon is now highlighting team members who’ve started a new career because Amazon invested in them. Instead of fearing employees leaving, they are choosing to highlight how they help people grow. Your company, most likely, is not as big as Amazon. GOOD NEWS, you don’t have to be!
One of C3’s Champion level endorsed employers, Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing makes a habit of investing in its people and sharing their successes. Most recently, Chamberlin shared with C3 how its training and development practices have become their calling card. They have had employees return to the organization after realizing the value of the extensive learning and growth opportunities available at Chamberlin vs. the competitors. When you look at C3’s list of Champion level endorsed companies you’ll find that investing in organizational and individual growth is the trend. Are you ready to join this elite group of employers? Here’s my advice, start small. Don’t think of growth as a massive venture. All it takes is a series of small steps/commitments/choices that add up to something big. As the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?”
Listen, at the end of the day, there is no government or state mandate to improve continuously. But just as in our day-to-day lives, those who invest in themselves have a much better chance of thriving not only surviving. So, I am telling you, as my friend told me, “You don’t get to ‘not’ right now”. If you are a leader in your organization, I implore you, don’t leave your organization only to survive. Push the limits, invest in your team. Dare to grow! No, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And remember, C3 has a team of Talent Development Professionals to assist you and share best practices along the way.
Breaking news for C3 comes in the form of a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Board (H-GAC). The H-GAC focuses on assisting companies in attracting, training, and retaining workers. They felt that the C3 mission of strengthening a safe, skilled, and sustainable workforce was something their grant money could truly help push forward. The grant, renewable for three years, provides Construction Career Collaborative with the funding to hire additional staff to assist with our craft training consultations and to increase opportunities for construction companies to pursue excellence in workforce.
When applying for the grant C3 strategically looked at barriers to entry and ongoing success of our participating Accredited Employers and aimed to provide programs to fill those gaps. Throughout our history, C3 has heard from those seeking to participate as Accredited Employers (AEs) that OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 for the entire workforce can be a hard hurdle to pass. As part of this grant, we are pleased to announce that starting in the 4th quarter we will be partnering with the AGC to offer one OSHA 10 each month to AEs seeking to skill their entire workforce. There will be no cost for this course to those who are Accredited Employers. OSHA 30 will be offered quarterly and will also be free. Need a session in Spanish - C3 seeks to add those in Q1 of 2022.
Knowing that a key to sustainable change is to build programs and support those programs with people, C3 included two new NCCER courses in our grant proposal. As it has never been the goal of C3 to train craft workers these two programs focus on enabling companies to become truly self-sustaining in relation to providing in-house craft training programs for their own workforce. The first course is Mentoring for Craft Professionals, a 10-hour course focused on helping journey-level professionals or foremen better aid in the training and mentoring of newer employees. Used in combination with our competency mapping and on-the-job training programs, this course will help companies launch and maintain a stronger career path for the workforce.
With the advancement in craft training, it is clear that companies will need to have dedicated coverage of craft training in their office. To aid those who don't have direct expertise in workforce development, C3 will be offering the year-long certificate program, NCCER Construction Workforce Development Professional Certification. This course requires an application and letter of recommendation. If you are interested, please sign up soon, as spots are limited and filling quickly. You can find the application link here.
Industry Awareness Outreach
Finally understanding that best-in-class Human Resource practices and Craft Training programs are not enough to create a sustainable talent pipeline alone, the grant also allows C3 to hire an industry outreach specialist. This position will be responsible for creating stronger and more productive programs with students in ISDs, trade schools, and junior colleges. Our long-term goal with this position is to create a more positive image of construction as a career and to create strong conversion rates from school to career.
It is an exciting time at Construction Career Collaborative as this grant begins to impact the depth and breadth of our programming for the future. We are stepping closer to our mission of collaboratively strengthening and growing the safe, skilled, and sustainable craft workforce talent pipeline.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com, 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!!
Construction Industry Institute (CII)
Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)
National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)