ACROSS THE COUNTRY

According to one report that evaluated recent U.S. construction projects in various markets, skill training investments yield a return on investment of between 2-to-1 to 3-to-1 when factors including employee turnover, improved quality, and higher productivity are taken into consideration. (Collaboration to Transformation: Solutions for Today’s Construction Industry, 2007)

Numerous strategies have been developed and launched around the country to address the construction industry’s skill gap. Within this context, a wide-ranging consensus has recently emerged around the notion that project owners should take direct control over the skills issue themselves. In an industry white paper entitled “Confronting the Skilled Workforce shortage,” the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) categorically recommends that project owners require contractors to provide skill training to their labor force to prequalify for the bidding process.

In the construction industry, a “registered apprenticeship program” is known to be a time-tested training system, developed and maintained according to set government standards and designed for each craft or trade in the industry. For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Labor promotes “apprenticeship training” as the leading solution to the skill crisis.

Major corporations, such as Exxon and DuPont, have recently adopted new bidding and contracting procedures that require contractors to participate in craft labor training, specify the types of programs they use, and furnish proof of such activity when submitting bids or proposals for projects. Used throughout construction planning processes, these procedures help project owners gain a measure of control over the quality of the workforce on a level that rarely existed before these initiatives were implemented.

As the project owner community increasingly becomes involved in the destiny of the skilled craft labor, other organizations, alliances and regional efforts around these issues in the construction sector have had excellent results.

For example, the Construction Careers Policy was passed by Los Angeles City council in April of 2008, which ties together local hiring, skills training and contractor qualifications and applies to construction projects funded through the City or Redevelopment Agency – a policy promoted by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Sector based partnerships in different regions of the nation continue to inform the work of Building Futures. In Seattle Washington, Port Jobs with their Apprenticeship Opportunities Project has been a tremendous resource. The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership – Building Industry Group Skilled Trades Employment Program (WRTP/BIGSTEP) also continues to meld the needs of industry and people as related to the construction workforce.