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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
If your company is a C3 Accredited Employer and employs less 100 employees, it is eligible to be reimbursed by C3 for the costs associated with training, and there are no strings attached. This is free money, and it can be like finding up to $2,000 on the sidewalk! If I have your attention, please read on.
As some of you may be aware, C3 is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from Texas Mutual Insurance, the largest workers compensation insurance carrier in Texas. A significant portion of this grant money has been designated to reimburse the cost of training-related expenses for small businesses. To be more specific, C3 will reimburse the cost of training-related expenses, up to $2,000, for C3 Accredited Employers that have less than 100 employees. Covered expenses include the cost of the training class itself and the wages associated with it for the employees that completed the training. The types of training that are covered include, but are not limited to, skills training, safety training and management or leadership training for those that supervise or lead the craft workforce.
Another large portion of this grant has been designated to underwrite the cost of the C3 accreditation fee for Small Businesses and Historically Underutilized Businesses. To date, 21 companies have been the beneficiary of this grant money, which very importantly provides them access to C3’s consulting services, free of charge, pertaining to the development and delivery of craft training programs linked to construction career paths.
If you are interested in being reimbursed for the costs associated with the training of your craft workforce, please contact C3 Operations Administrator, Diane Aguilar. Diane can be reached via email at diane@C3.org or by phone (713)999-1324.
In my role as Executive Director of Construction Career Collaborative (C3), I make many presentations each year to building owners, general contractors, specialty contractors, design professionals and industry trade groups as I evangelize the important work we do. Nearly everyone with whom I meet recognizes that C3’s mission of achieving a safe, skilled and sustainable craft workforce is critically important to the health of all companies engaged in the construction process and to the broader economy. In fact, the unsustainability of the current craft workforce is the construction industry’s biggest threat as illustrated by the fact that recent industry surveys show that as many as 80% of construction companies state that they are having difficulty attracting people to the skilled craft trades in their companies.
This shortage of skilled craft workers is not a problem that occurred overnight. It has been brewing for 35 years. As a result, the solution will not be achieved quickly, but C3 is working to create solutions that can accelerate a solution for your company. That solution requires a short term and a long-term commitment to workforce development practices that are competitive with other industries. If the construction industry is to attract talent, it must demonstrate that there are attractive opportunities in the craft trades to those considering their career options. This is achieved with competitive workforce practices, which include:
At C3, we recognize that developing workforce practices to attract, train and retain talent are not easily accomplished. Many company owners and leaders have the desire to do so but lack the know-how or experience. The C3 team not only possesses the know-how, but also has simplified the process. We are here to help guide you and your company through it.
C3 Accredited Employers can receive consulting services free of charge from our two talented training experts, Angela Robbins and Reba Taville. Each of these professionals have earned a master’s degree and have extensive workforce development experience. Among the construction companies that have already benefitted from their consulting services and expertise are Karsten Interior Services, Holes Inc., Bundren Painting & Drywall, McCarthy Building Companies, Vaughn Construction, J.M. Maly, Griesenbeck, D.E. Harvey Builders, Anslow Bryant Construction, ISEC and TNT Crane & Rigging. And, this is not all. The C3 team can assist you and your company too!
If you would like to learn how C3 can help you build a sustainable craft workforce for your company, please contact Angela Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 713.999.1032.
I have always been a no-nonsense girl and have rarely taken ‘no’ for an answer in my career. The idea of not being allowed to do something simply because I am a woman is difficult for me to tolerate. But this has been a reality for women in the workplace for generations. Although much has been done to create a more equal career opportunity for women, hiring practices, bias and lack of applicants continue to plague many industries. Construction is one such industry. Addressing this lack of female employees has been talked about for years and companies have begun providing more programming and opportunities but there is still more work to be done. Inside the ranks of Construction Career Collaborative, we can find several different strategies to attract, hire and retain females in the industry.
Seeking to create dialogue with a group of young women in our Independent School Districts (ISDs), C3 is partnering with the Houston Chapter of National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to sponsor an all-female construction career expo in October. Approximately 1000 girls from 6th -12th grade will be invited to participate in an interactive exploration of careers in construction and those companies that support the industry with equipment, safety and tools. On October 17, 2019 the M.O. Campbell Center, in Aldine ISD, will host these young women as they interact with demonstrations, hands-on displays, and presentations from civil, commercial and industrial contractors. Each young woman will be provided with a hard hat, safety vest, gloves and opportunity to realize that “WE Can” build. And as Houston continues to grow that our built environment can be something they build “#SHEbuildsHouston.” The presentations will also illustrate the “hybrid” careers that provide the opportunity to spend part of their time in the field and part of it in the office, like project superintendent or safety engineer.
Registration opens on July 25, 2019 on the Construction Career Collaborative website.www.constructioncareercollaborative.org /WECan Underwriter, sponsorship and demonstration booth opportunities are available. As an industry, this is our chance to tell young women we want them in construction and that we are open to helping them join us and flourish in a construction career. Don’t miss your opportunity to participate as we expect to sell out quickly. Please reach out to me, Angela Robbins, email@example.com for more information on planning and registration for this one of a kind powerful event.
Nearly ten years ago, a group of leaders in the Houston commercial construction industry met to discuss its biggest future challenge, an aging and diminishing craft workforce. Baby Boomers were (and still are) reaching retirement age at the rate of 10,000 people each day, and the construction trades were not attracting young talent to replenish them. In short, what was once a healthy, sustainable craft workforce was no longer. The construction industry was losing the battle for talent to other industries whose workforce practices were perceived as providing better opportunities and a brighter future.
When these leaders examined the underlying cause of the issue, they realized that the human resources practices that originally created a skilled and sustainable craft workforce had largely vanished. Many companies had severed the employer-employee relationship, which eliminated traditional employee benefits as well as Social Security, Medicare and state and federal unemployment tax benefits. Craft workers were being paid as independent subcontractors. The provision of skills training had ceased, and as a result, construction career paths had all but ended.
From this meeting sprung the idea of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3), a diverse organization of owners (those who purchase construction services), general contractors, specialty contractors, industry trade organizations and design professionals whose goal is to create a safe, skilled and sustainable craft workforce. Foundational to this organization are three core principles – proper human resource practices, the pursuit, development and adoption of the best construction-industry safety standards and skills training linked to construction career paths.
Fast forward to today and C3 has made significant strides forward in all three of these areas of focus. Much of the industry has recognized the importance of the employer-employee relationship and how it relates to the development of its craft workforce. Rarely will a company invest in the training of a craft worker who is not its employee. These companies also recognize that they cannot compete for talent in a job market with unemployment rates below 4% without the competitive human resource practices that C3 prescribes.
These competitive practices include safety standards that enable craft workers to return home safely at the end of each work day. C3 requires that each craft worker on a C3 jobsite earn an OSHA 10 safety credential and their supervisors earn an OSHA 30 safety credential. In fact, we believe that C3 projects may be the only ones in the USA, in the commercial construction industry, where all workers meet this standard. Additionally, in just 29 months, there have been 94,746 attendees in C3 Safety Refresher Training, which consists of 12 training modules, delivered once per month, and specific to commercial construction. This training and certification translates into a safer working environment that is exemplified by an aggregate Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) on C3 projects of .86, 300% better than the national average for all non-residential construction in this country as measured by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Finally, and maybe the most critical measure of C3’s progress towards a goal of building a safe, skilled and sustainable craft workforce, is the rapidly growing number of companies investing in and developing their craft training programs. These companies know that trained, skilled workers are not only safer workers, but they produce high quality work, and more of it, in less time with less rework and less supervision resulting in higher employee morale, lower employee turnover, growing sales revenue and higher profit margins. To date, 173 companies, both general contractors and specialty contractors, have enrolled in the C3 Craft Training Endorsement Program, and 60 of these companies have earned a coveted C3 Craft Training Endorsement. In fact, we believe that there is a strong possibility that 100 companies will achieve an endorsement by year end.
It should not go without mention that the C3 training team is consulting with many of the above-referenced companies to guide them through the development of their respective craft training initiatives. This is a critical component of the C3 formula because we recognize that a large number of construction companies do not have an HR/Training Department. As a result, they may not have the expertise or “know how” to develop and deliver craft skills training and link it to construction career paths. C3 does, and we are sharing that knowledge with C3 Accredited Employers, free of charge!
In closing, some numbers that illustrate C3’s growing success and influence within the commercial construction industry in the Houston region since its inception:
If you and your company have not yet engaged with C3, contact us. Just as we are helping other construction companies, we can help yours too. Getting involved with C3 could prove to be one of the wisest business decisions you have ever made.
Key C3 Contacts
Associate Director – People Development, Compliance and Operations
As the 2018-2019 school year closes and we watch the first wave of craft workers hired from a C3 Career Fair enter the workforce as they move beyond graduation, I am reminded how life is full of milestones and moments that mark our progress. These milestones are important. They mark the significant achievements along our path.
C3, with its mission of creating a safe, skilled and sustainable craft workforce, has reached some major milestones and has a few more on the horizon. Twenty C3 projects have been successfully completed. Twenty more are under construction, or about to begin, with several more in the pipeline. We are closing in on 400 participating construction companies. June will mark a milestone with 50 construction companies that have earned a valuable C3 Craft Training Endorsement, a number that we expect to reach 100 by year end and well before C3 reaches its 10-year anniversary in 2020. These are some great milestones because together we are doing great things.
Milestones also serve to remind us the C3 mission isn’t yet complete. “Even after implementing training and raising the bottom line (through return on training investment), we still get value from C3. We are not finished. We’re still growing.”, remarks Art Canales, President, Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing. Art is right. We are not finished, and we are still growing, but there is still much more work to do.
You might be wondering what is next for C3. We are rapidly deploying to meet the need of a rising population of companies seeking to create new and better training programs for craft professionals. We are partnering with schools, community-based organizations and local and state workforce boards to educate potential skilled workers on the benefits of a career as a craft professional in commercial construction. We are leveraging C3 programs and creating new ones to change the perception of construction as a sustainable career choice to provide a quality lifestyle for craft professionals and their families.
C3 is growing and chances are your business is as well. Join us on this next chapter of C3’s journey. Engage with us to create stronger on-the-job competency-based training programs. Share our complimentary safety programs with your workforce and peers. Play golf with us at our annual tournament in October. Partner with like-minded companies to educate students and parents about the myriad of opportunities a career in the skilled trades offers. Join us as we move forward to elevate the playing field and create a sustainable craft workforce driven to be the safest and most skilled for Houston’s future. We are changing the commercial construction industry.
Back in January, C3 hosted a meeting with members of its board of directors and other interested parties to establish new strategic goals. One of the primary themes that emerged was the importance of identifying and collecting metric data that validates the business case of C3.
Since that meeting, C3 has formed a metrics committee that includes committee chair, John Barnes of Rogers-O'Brien Construction, Art Canales of Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, Pete Dawson who recently retired from Texas Children’s Hospital, Craig Peterson of Peterson Beckner Industries, Bud Walters of Pieper-Houston Electric and me to tackle this critical issue.
This committee met for the first time on April 17th with the initial goal of identifying metrics that are as broadly applicable as possible. The committee recognized that metrics collection is a complex topic that is affected by many variables, which can make the goal of broad application a challenge. Committee members focused on the identification of both “project-specific metrics” and “employer-specific metrics”. We also recognized that it would be a mistake to try to “boil the ocean” so we agreed that it is important to start simple, have success and build upon that success.
Please keep in mind that the committee has met only once with future meetings still to come, but these are some of the possibilities that it identified, several of which are like an onion and may have many layers of complexity.
One important item of note, similar to building a skilled and sustainable craft workforce, the story told by the collection of metrics data is like writing a book that never ends. It takes time, and it tells an on-going story that is perpetual if continuously updated. Metrics measure performance thereby providing feedback to those in control of the process, which enables them to make adjustments in order to continuously improve.
Similarly, we believe that metrics will establish the business case that will prove the value of C3 to all involved with it, but we must first correctly identify the proper data to collect, establish the collection process, collect the data, interpret the results and then communicate the findings.
The C3 Metrics Committee welcomes your input. If your company is tracking metrics that have proven to be valuable measurements of performance and you would like to share them, please contact me either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 713.999.1218. Please note that we are not asking you to share confidential information that is proprietary to your organization. We are interested only in the topic and method of collection.
April 4th was a big day for us at C3. We launched our first annual career fair for graduating high school seniors around Houston. School guidance counselors and the C3 People Development team put a lot of effort into preparing the students to meet hiring companies. Arriving at Wheeler Field House, resumes in hand and dress shoes shined, the students were ready. As they wandered around the display booths, I stopped groups of students and asked what I thought would be a simple, logical question to help point them to the right C3 hiring companies. After all, how hard could it be for a student to answer, “What do you want to do after graduation?” Repeatedly, I was given a stunned and bemused look of incredulous disbelief. As students tried not to roll their eyes, they answered “hmm, Construction?” How could I not already know that answer, after all wasn’t I the one who recruited them to come to a “construction” career fair. Students didn’t understand that drywall is not masonry, and neither are working in roofing or fire protection. This lack of awareness about the wealth of options construction has to offer its craft professionals is one of the hurdles that our industry must aggressively address in the upcoming years. While the students may not have known the differences between General Contractors and Specialty Contractors, they all shared one thing in common, a desire to work.
I also get similar reactions of awe and disbelief when I talk to their parents. Ears perk up and light bulbs begin to come on when we talk about how the industry can provide a standard of living that is equivalent to what college provides without the debt. The “No Child Left Behind” movement, of the last 20 years, has parents telling kids that college is the only road to success and school counselors are echoing that through the halls of the high schools. Honestly, until my work at C3, I would have been right there with them. Even though Texas House Bill 5, which requires all graduates to have a career or college readiness endorsement, has made strides toward educating parents and counselors about non-college routes and preparing students for construction careers, they still think in small limited terms. Watching career fair students interact with companies, either in demonstrations or discussions, it was clear that we cannot give them too much information. Like sponges, they soaked up the idea that masonry was relevant and engaging, working from heights was dangerous but exhilarating, and interiors is more than just hanging drywall and painting. These students and their peers are begging for us to come to them and tell them what they can dare to dream and build.
Wells Fargo’s 2019 Construction Industry Index highlights that 47% of the contractors in their survey indicate their “utmost concern is the ability to hire qualified workers.” Reaching Generation Z, as they prepare to enter the workforce, closing the knowledge gap about construction careers for parents and high school counselors, and skilling students in order to mitigate the rising risk of debilitating workforce shortage, must become the most important thing for our industry’s long-term survival. FMI executive, Pat Kiley, offers a conservative estimate that the revenue from the built environment will double in the Greater Houston Area by 2045, as long there are workers to build it. Attracting workers to the industry and educating them on the benefits of a craft profession is at the heart of creating a sustainable workforce. C3 is committed to continuing the dialogue with schools, parents, counselors and students. To join the conversation and make a difference in the future of the industry, contact C3 today. Together we can influence a generation to build Houston forward using the hands of safe, skilled craft professionals recruited from our very own local high schools.
By Chuck Gremillion, Executive Director, Construction Career Collaborative (C3)
Recently, C3 board member Tom Vaughn of Vaughn Construction emailed me a scan of an article that he cut out of the March 4/11, 2019 edition of ENR Magazine on the subject of Workforce Development entitled CURT Rolls Out Program to Grade Contractors on Training. The article tells the story of the utility Southern Company sending “its primary contractors a letter quizzing them on the level of their workforce training”. It went on to say that “the questionnaire is Southern’s first step toward prequalifying and hiring only contractors who invest in worker training”. This was done in response to a recommendation from the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT), of which Southern Company is a member, at its annual conference in Orlando in February. What makes this significant is that it may foretell a shift in how contractors are selected by those companies, like Southern, that purchase construction services.
The reason that I share this occurrence is that CURT, a highly respected organization of construction users, has data that proves the value of training for the construction workforce and its impact on construction projects. The article goes on to cite the results of a case study that was profiled at the CURT conference referenced earlier, where training costs of $234,239 incurred on a project generated a labor savings of $664,364 on that same project. This is in addition to data gathered by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) which confirms that every dollar invested in workforce training generates a return of $3. The chart below published by CII, also referenced in the ENR article, illustrates these findings.
Return on Investment for Committed Workforce Development
If 1% of the Project Labor Budget Were Invested in Training…
Expected Average Improvement
Capital Projects Maintenance Projects
Productivity 11% 10%
Turnover Cost 14% 14%
Absenteeism 15% 15%
Injury 26% 27%
Rework 23% 26%
$1.00 invested in training = $3.00 ROI
The shift to prequalify contractors on the basis of the quality of the training of their workforce is not a surprise. It is driven by data and common sense. Trained, skilled workers are safer workers who produce high quality work, and more of it, in less time with less rework. The employee retention rate among workers in a company with a robust culture of training is much higher than those who companies without such a culture, and absenteeism is markedly lower. The projects produced by these companies also have much lower maintenance costs over the long term.
It is not a coincidence that woven into the highest performing construction companies is an evergreen culture of workforce development. This culture of training helps make these companies more profitable, which in turn enables them to continue to reinvest in training and their employees. Very importantly, it fuels their growth and makes them much more attractive to individuals considering a career in the construction craft trades or to those who are considering a change of employers.
Owners are changing their process for the selection of contractors and are including training as a basis for that selection. Don’t get left behind. C3 has seasoned training professionals on staff who can help your company design and develop its craft training program, and its free of charge for C3 Accredited Employers. For more information, please contact C3 Associate Director, Angela Robbins, either by phone at 713.999.1032 or via email at email@example.com.
Construction Industry Institute (CII)
Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)
National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)