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August 2017

 
 
 
 


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The brave new world of construction recruiting

Even with apprenticeships and other training programs, finding new workers is a challenge.

AUTHOR

Debbie Reslock


Times have changed. It once wasn’t unusual for a construction career to start and end with family. “You learned the skills, gained responsibility along the way and often ended up years later with ownership of the business,” said Kim Waseca-Love, education and apprenticeship director for the Spokane (WA) Home Builders Association.

But that scenario is becoming less and less common. And with the ongoing labor shortage, the need for solutions is taking on a greater importance. Waseca-Love says there will soon be a deficit of 200,000 to 250,000 construction workers annually nationwide. Part of that drop-off will come as the result of older workers retiring, making the need to transfer their knowledge and skills to those taking their place an urgent one.

The challenge, of course, is finding those new workers.

The role of apprenticeships

Passing along knowledge from an experienced worker to one who wants to learn is an age-old practice, and it remains one of the most effective ways to train someone in a skill.

Since 1980, the Spokane HBA has offered a four-year apprenticeship program, which is approved and monitored by the state’s Department of Labor and Industries. Through the program, apprentices undergo 8,000 hours of on-the-job training in residential carpentry, plus another 144 hours of related classroom instruction, and are paid wages by their employers. When finished, each student is issued a certificate of completion by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.

The Northeast Florida Builders Association has been running its training program for almost 45 years, offering a four-year course of study in four trades: carpentry, electric, HVAC and plumbing. Association members provide 2,000 hours of on-the-job training each year and the apprentice is paid hourly with a 5% wage bump every six months during the program. So far, the program has graduated 1,700 students.

According to Christina Thomas, training director for the Northeast Florida program, the benefits go both ways. “The employer has the opportunity to grow their own talent, and the students who go through the program often want to give back,” she said, adding that eight in 10 instructors are also program graduates.

On the commercial side, the Colorado Contractors Association (CCA) started its apprenticeship program in the late 1970s with a similar mission. Today, its training includes carpentry, cement masonry, heavy equipment operation, ironwork and truck driving. The program is approved by the Department of Labor’s apprenticeships office, said Terry Kish, CCA director of safety and workforce development.

The CCA’s is also a multi-year program, with the carpentry apprenticeship providing 8,000 hours of training over the course of four years. Those interested in the cement mason, heavy equipment operator or ironworker programs must undertake 6,000 hours of instruction over three years, and future truck drivers must take a one-year program comprising 2,000 hours of instruction.

The apprentice is an employee of the contractor, who pays their wages. In the CCA’s program, the student must first be working for one of its member contractors in order to get accepted.

Challenges in recruiting remain

The training programs are there, but inspiring students to go into construction is still one of the biggest battles the industry faces today. A four-year college degree isn’t right for everyone, so getting the word out that the skilled trades can offer a viable alternative career path is the first step. “These skills can be learned without taking on the debt that often comes with a traditional degree,” Waseca-Love said.

The housing market crash dealt a blow to perceptions of construction as a lucrative job. Thomas still sees some skepticism about a career in the industry. That’s in part because the path is not being promoted in high schools on par with other options like joining the military or going to college. “Unless the family is in construction, kids may not understand the opportunities,” Thomas says.

Those opportunities can include a financial boost. “My apprentices start on day one often making more money than someone who graduated from a traditional college,” Kish says. “And after three to four years they can be making $30 to $40 an hour. And have no debt.”

Expanding recruiting efforts is vital to reaching prospective students. “We use social media, print and online advertising, attend many career fairs each month and reach out to trades and tell them to send us those applicants they can’t hire due to lack of skills,” says Michael Smith, director of the Colorado Homebuilding Academy (CHA). The CHA, too, offers hands-on training to un- or under-employed workers, military veterans and high school students readying for graduation, among others. The academy also runs a website — DiscoverBuildingCareers.org—​ to highlight careers in construction.

Finding future workers starts today

In June, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to increase apprenticeship funding to $200 million and give the private sector more say in how they would set up their programs. But Smith says the Department of Labor has yet to release guidance on how the expedited process will work, or if it will apply to the construction industry. 

Even if efforts to recruit the next generation are successful, Kish said construction payrolls will drop 20% in the next four to five years as workers age out of the industry. A lot of knowledge will leave with them. “They know what the problems can be and how to solve them. They also have the relationships with the owners and customers,” he said. “Companies need to have a transition plan to instill the knowledge from those leaving to those coming in.”

It’s a game of catch-up, and the industry has fallen behind. Kish said the economic hit that construction companies took as a result of the recession also didn’t help.

“It was eight years where companies were just trying to make payroll. They weren’t hiring. So now there are age gaps, especially in the trades,” he said.  “But we all need to remember how important construction is. Without it, nothing else happens.”



Events July 2017



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VBIA 2018 Memorial Scholarship Winner Paul Lawrence with proud mom Jennifer and Scholarship Committee Chairman Mary Thomas.

Paul also won a Future Builders of America Scholarship!




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HOME OF THE MONTH


Diana 1904B by Renar Homes


Westridge Villas DeBary Plantation 

@Debary Golf & Country Club





Why Do Referrals Happen?


Let’s start with question number one: What makes a customer want to refer a friend to a particular company?

That’s a big question and an important one. If you don’t understand it, you might just end up spinning your wheels with a referral program that appeals to nobody.

According to Jonah Berger, who wrote a book called Contagious: Why Things Catch On, there are six potential factors that might make your customers want to give you a referral:

1 - Social currency comes first. Will a referral make your customer look good on their own or in comparison to other people?

2 - Emotions play a big role in decision making. If your referral program engages customers’ emotions, they’ll be more likely to refer.

3- Virality is up next. When an idea or concept is easy to remember, it’s also more likely to spread. That’s just as true of referrals as it is of cat videos.

4 -  Stories are important to people. If your referral request comes disguised as a story, then it’s more likely that people will want to share it.

5 - Practicality is really at the core of referrals. Is your product practical? Is the incentive to refer it practical too?

6 - Publicity is the final factor. People tend to follow what others do, but only if they can see that they’re doing it.

The good news is that you don’t have to engage all six of these factors to make your referral program a success. You just need to use the ones that make sense in the best possible way to inspire referrals from your existing customers.

If you want to implement a referral system that works

Contact us for a FREE consultation session.

To define and implement your 2017 social media strategy, contact Ursula Amon

386.527-5089, E-mail, Website








 

 Joint Employer Bill Would Provide Certainty to Business Community


NAHB today commended bipartisan legislation introduced in the House that would help small businesses and boost housing affordability by clarifying under the law what constitutes a joint employer. The standard of joint employment was vastly expanded by a 2015 decision issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in which it adopted a broad and ambiguous new definition.

“NAHB applauds Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) for introducing the Save Local Business Act, legislation that would reinstate the sensible joint employer criteria that has worked for the American business community for more than 30 years and will ensure a level playing field for all small businesses,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald.

Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Luis Correa (D-Calif.) are also cosponsors of the legislation.

NLRB’s controversial decision in 2015 overturned decades of precedence in the case of Browning-Ferris Industries of California Inc. by radically expanding the traditional test for joint employer status in which a company must exercise “direct and immediate control” over an employment relationship.

Under the NLRB’s expanded definition of its joint employer standard, a company could be considered a joint employer if it has the “indirect or potential” right to control or co-determine the essential terms of an employee’s employment, including hiring and firing, supervision, scheduling, and determining the means and methods of performance.

For the residential construction sector, this means builders, specialty trades and other employers could be held liable for the labor and employment practices of third-party vendors, suppliers and contractors over which they have no direct control.





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Recruiting new members to your local association is an activity recognized and rewarded through the Spike Club. Those who participate are called Spikes. 

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Save the Dates!

No GMM August

8-31-17: County Building Department Meeting @ VBIA 9 AM

9-20-17: GMM @ LPGA - Ron DeSantis speaking

10-11-17: GMM @ Daytona Airport

10-18 & 10-19, 2017 FHBA Fall Conference Ponte Vedra

11-05-17: Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament

12-01-17 : Holiday Party/Installation @ LPGA


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