Angela Robbins Taylor
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is what we might have formerly called vocational education. It prepares students on the verge of entering a career field to gain skills and become more actively prepared for what is to come after graduation.
The best CTE programs include construction simply because construction is one of the primary ways students can start a career path with an abundance of positions, more than livable wages, and the ability to advance.
Let’s take a closer look at including construction in your school district’s CTE program.
How Construction Fits into the Best CTE Programs
When discussing what makes a good CTE construction training program, we have to think about three key items.
1. Safety Training
Safety training must be the priority right at the beginning of all Career and Technical Education construction programs. Without a quality safety emphasis, students come out of high school unprepared to identify the potential dangers on a job site.
At a minimum, students should understand how to identify hazards and the mitigations that can be placed into effect to prevent job site injuries.
While construction across the United States does not have standardized requirements for entry-level employees in construction, the best CTE programs should provide OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 as certifications students can achieve prior to graduation.
Offering the OSHA 10-Hour and 30-Hour training will provide students with opportunities to achieve certifications before graduation. In addition, this effort will create larger pools of opportunity for them to be hired and immediately placed into positions that are attached to apprenticeships or other on-the-job training programs.
2. Skill Development
Skill development is the single highest determiner of the success of high-quality CTE programs in construction. Therefore, it is crucial for CTE directors and academic curriculum providers to continuously improve and manage programs to include relevant skill development that includes application and competency assessment.
If you are looking for the highest quality commercial construction training programs, three things should be part of your curriculum search:
Input from an advisory board made up of current commercial construction businesses.
The value of an advisory board is twofold. First, the teachers have access to current employees to bring into the classroom, and administrators have the ability to consistently check to ensure that programs are targeted at the skills most in demand currently. Additionally, an excellent advisory member is also a potential employer for graduating students.
78% of contractors continue to say skilled workers are in short supply. But only 23% report career training as a key business strategy. This discrepancy means funding and cultivating an advisory board is challenging, but it remains critical to developing a post-graduation workforce pipeline.
Access to the latest pieces of technology, like BIM and other automated planning tools, shows students that technology is gaining momentum in the field.
As digital natives move through high school and into the workforce, having technology that assists their job is essential to their success. They know the power of technology and expect that their jobs will include it to provide efficiency and productivity.
Graduating seniors may enter any of multiple trades even though your program focuses on electrical or plumbing. Therefore, it is critical that the program you offer provides a strong foundation in general construction skills.
General construction skills like construction math, plan reading, the basics of hand and power tool safety, and more training can expose students to various trades available on their career path upon graduating.
3. Employability Skills
Employability skills are often identified as the most missing skill among the incoming workforce. When the industry uses employability skills, they are referring to:
A construction program can help students develop these crucial “soft skills” before entering the workforce, making them more readily employable in the industry.
Give Your CTE Program a Boost with Construction
In the end, a successful CTE program will include safety, skill, and employability training in curriculums. But the best CTE programs will consist of construction because it is an industry that will never disappear. It will provide students who are not headed to college with a defined career path and will help students find satisfying work that is essential to our economy and critical to the infrastructure of life.
Construction Career Collaborative (C3) is full of contractors and trade partners who want to help invest in the technical training of the future. We support active integration between your CTE program and our partnering companies. If your school district needs access to advisory boards, curriculums, or hiring events, we can help.
We invite you to join our educational advisory board. Make your construction CTE program stand out above the rest.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Finding skilled workers can be the hardest part of growing your business. The skilled workforce is dwindling as fewer young people enter the skilled trades and more people age out into retirement.
We want that magic bullet to tell us where to find skilled workers ready for job deployment, but seeking an instant solution to a long-term problem creates the hire-and-fire cycle of many construction companies.
Suppose you continue to find yourself wondering where to find skilled construction workers. In that case, it’s time to start the journey of finding and retaining the best-skilled construction workforce for better project efficiency.
6 Questions to Ask About Your Workforce Talent Pipeline
Take a look at the top six questions for trade partners to ask when looking for a better-skilled construction workforce talent pipeline:
1. Who Do You Need?
Understanding who you want to hire is the single most important question any business owner can ever ask about their skilled workforce.
Permanent or Temporary?
This can be a very difficult question to answer. Do I need someone to stay with me and grow because the business is growing? Or is this a short-term temporary position needed to complete work on a seasonal level or large-scale project?
When looking to build a skilled construction workforce, it is better to be focused on growth and permanence than hiring for temporary work accelerations.
Temporary workers, while valuable for seasonal work or to help quickly finish a job, are largely unskilled. If your company truly needs skilled construction workers, it is important that you identify their skill sets and how you will utilize them on the job site to quickly screen out anyone who doesn't match your long-term or short-term strategic need.
2. What Do You Need Them to Do?
This is the $1,000,000 question! Having a clear understanding of the expectations on the job for your employees leads to better hiring. Of course, you know exactly what good looks like when you see it on a job site. Capturing the competencies necessary for your job is simply a function of answering that question: “What does good look like?”
Be sure to answer the question of what good looks like for each of the following categories:
3. When Do You Need Them on the Job Site?
The more urgent your need, the more likely you will buy or borrow your talent. But if you are working toward the future, building your talent is a long-term solution to your skilled construction workforce issue.
Buy vs. Borrow vs. Build
4. Where Will You Find Them?
There are a lot of places you can look to find potential workers who are skilled or want to be skilled. Here are a few of the best ways to identify a potential workforce:
5. Why Will They Stay?
Putting in all the work to find a skilled construction workforce doesn't make sense if they don't stay with your company. Talking about how to retain your employees is a topic for another day, but it's critical that each company puts thought into their culture. Hammr.com lists the following as critical to creating a culture of retention.
Keys to Company Culture
6. How Will You Grow Their Skills?
Continue to invest in your people! Here are three actions you can take.
Find More Help on Where to Find Skilled Construction Workers
You don’t have to go at it alone building a talent pipeline for your company. If you need help getting started with building your skilled workforce talent, reach out to C3.
Call us today for a consultation. We can be reached at 713-999-1013.
Angela Robbins Taylor
Safety issues in construction should always be top of the mind for construction leaders at general contractors. As safety has moved to the forefront of job sites across the nation in the last few decades, we have seen a considerable increase in positive safety culture and the ability to prevent injury and lost time for our craft professionals.
But there are still many ways that safety issues in construction can be addressed that go beyond the classroom and get to the main barriers to safety on jobsites.
Consider four ways to address safety issues with your trade partners that will reduce incidents and increase productivity.
How General Contractors Impact the Safety Culture on Job Sites
Require all craft professionals to participate in daily hazard analysis with their crew.
Let’s take a closer look at these recommended actions.
1. Require Craft Professionals to Participate in a Daily Hazard Analysis
We talk about job hazard analysis all the time in classrooms where safety is the primary topic of instruction. When we include our craft professionals in the analysis of hazards while actually on the job site, we increase their ability to identify in real-time things that can go wrong for both themselves and other individuals in their crew.
A daily hazard analysis done by an entire crew also ensures that each individual craft worker is aware:
Accidents are more likely to happen when there is confusion or a lack of understanding of the work to be completed.
2. Encourage Different Trade Partners to Plan Work Together
Job sites are very crowded and oftentimes different trade partners are working side by side without ever speaking to the other.
For example, the hazards identified by an electrician will always be different from the hazards identified by a drywall installer. They work in different spaces and have different frames of reference, yet their work often overlaps. When GCs allow trade partners to work in isolation, they increase the possibility that:
Even if pulling together all the trade partners can be time-consuming and may seem difficult, the outcome can increase safety and productivity by allowing trade partners to collaborate to create efficiency in small workspaces.
3. Provide for Language Barriers
When Construction Career Collaborative (C3) offers English for construction workers, we hear from craft professionals who are not native English speakers that they feel safer and more knowledgeable as they increase their English proficiency.
While this feedback seems incredibly obvious, we oftentimes fail to provide second language speaking craftworkers with tools to encourage them to be more prepared and better able to communicate safety concerns to English-speaking supervisors.
It is imperative that we empower our workforce through inclusive training programs that include language skills if we genuinely want to see a decrease in safety issues on construction sites and an increase in our safety cultures.
Beyond English for construction workers, Spanish for construction supervisors is equally valuable for:
4. Create a Stop Work Authority Culture that Promotes Safety as a Community Effort
According to books published by the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), stop work authority is empowering everyone on the team to fulfill their safety responsibilities. As a general contractor, you manage many teams that must play together and create safety equally across the jobsite. CCPS has shared this important lesson to keep in mind:
“Leaders should make it clear that any employee can stop work or shut down the job if they perceive a potentially unsafe situation. Employees who exercise stop work authority should be complimented, not criticized. When stop work authority is used, leaders should avoid second-guessing the decision. Instead, understand the reason for the decision to stop work and address the root cause.”
When we support our workforce and trust them to behave in the best interest of the job and the team, we create a true safety culture.
Learn More About Safety Issues in Construction
Looking for more tips to step up your safety culture? Sign up for the C3 News Brief. To be added to our list, simply drop your email address in the sign-up box on our Contact page.
In our email newsletter, we share valuable information about safety issues in construction and other topics you will find valuable to advance safety in your company.
Angela Robbins Taylor
I'm sure you've read countless articles on the construction labor shortage and the lack of craft trade professionals who can meet the demand for building projects in our current environment.
But you are just the construction project owner, and all of those people belong to your GC and their trade partners. This isn't your problem to solve, right? Wrong!
We'll show you three reasons owners need to be part of the solution for the craftwork shortage.
3 Ways Owners Can Address the Construction Labor Shortage
1. Don’t settle for cheap - “low price doesn’t always win.”
2. Require safety as a culture.
3. Expect highly trained professionals.
1. Low Price Doesn’t Always Win
Coming in on budget is a critical measure of success for building owners. However, as the skilled trade workforce shortage increases, project costs rise.
Owners are always looking for a project that can come in cheaper, but what drives that lower cost? The main variable for pricing between two competing trade partners will always be labor.
With turnover rates nearing 40%, according to a Construction Dive report, having enough crew to complete your project is often questionable. When low price wins, subcontractors are forced to become creative in how they employ skilled workers, including misclassifying or failing to pay workers correctly.
The cost of hiring a replacement for an entry-level $50,000 skilled worker averages 20% of their annual salary, or $10,000. That $10,000 shows up in the owner’s pocketbook in one of two ways:
Requiring a workforce that is both skilled and held as an employee by the trade partner in your contracting process creates an environment that prevents damage from the “low price always wins” approach.
Owners got to “low price” because the only thing that could shift was the cost of labor. It is time for owners to make the shift back to buying for quality as well as cost.
2. Require Safety as a Culture
Low price isn't all that costs owners when you don't own the workforce. Safety becomes critical when workers rotate in and out and have little or no training.
We find repeatedly that safety is directly impacted by the training received and the time on the job. A constant stream of new workers who have little or no experience on job sites or have previously been employed on less complicated job sites creates danger for multiple parties, including the following individuals:
There is a reason we give them different colored hard hats to identify workers as new. When accidents happen, job sites lose productivity, workers become distracted thinking about the accident and filling out paperwork, and sometimes job sites can even be shut down.Accidents cost owners.
Again, asking for your general contractor or construction manager to require a certain level of safety training prior to working on the job site is a simple way for you to own a safer and more productive workforce.
If you want the right workforce to build your building, it's important to set the tone from the very beginning that safety is a part of your company's culture and your company's culture extends to what your company builds.
3. Expect Highly Trained Professionals
For a long time, construction was just “blue-collar work,” but more and more, it's becoming evident that it is a craft that requires time and practice to master.
You do not become a master plumber, master electrician, or master Mason overnight. It is time that we call them professionals like their project manager, architect, estimator, or business developer counterparts.
While construction workers do not earn their degrees in laboratories or classroom seats, they are professionals, nonetheless. Your favorite basketball player or football star didn't learn their craft in a classroom either. If you want the best work, you must hire the best workforce.
Ask your general contractor to consider and weigh in the bid process the amount of training that each company provides for their craft workforce. This is one way that owners create a better place for craft professionals.
Own Up to Your Role Supporting the Craft Workforce
Technically, you don't own the craft professional workforce. But, you can impact how they show up on your job and how your job gets done.
Asking for better employees on your jobsite elevates the playing field for the industry, which indirectly increases the likelihood that others who might be interested in the industry begin to see it as a valuable, honorable, life-long career.
Taking action now is the best way to address the construction labor shortage and increase the quality of craft workers available for your jobs. Achieving the desired result depends upon your own ability to do the following:
- Estimate better the cost of labor and materials to generate the quality of project that you desire, thereby creating a better costing model that rejects low cost always wins.
- Work with design professionals, construction partners, and community partners to facilitate conversation about the benefits of being part of the built environment in our community to recruit new construction craft professionals.
- Own your part of having created the problem. Commit to working with partners like Construction Career Collaborative (C3) to create a better future through a safer, more skilled, and sustainable workforce.
We invite you to join our email list. The C3 News Brief includes valuable information for owners to support your projects. To be added to our list, simply drop your email address in the sign-up box on our Contact page.
Construction Industry Institute (CII)
Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)
National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)