It is difficult to go a day without hearing of the skilled trade shortage that we are suffering within the construction industry. The issue is by no means new, but has been brought to the forefront by voices like Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" and John Ratzenberger.
These independent voices coupled with prominent companies stepping forward to combat these problems, such as Home Depot and Lowes, gives me hope that we've recognized the need for course correction and we're acting on it.
An industry that is near and dear to me - floorcovering - stepped forward last week to announce their part in addressing the skilled trades shortage with their "We are Part of the Solution" initiative. Kudos to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) for fighting this fight. We're only in the early rounds of this 12 round battle if you ask me, but we need more industry associations to drop personal (and political) interests and instead draw industries, businesses and groups together to tackle these matters. We're not going to resolve this overnight, but we will get to the later rounds of the fight, as we all need to be a part of the solution.
Please read on for the official WFCA announcement...
World Floor Covering Association Spearheads Industry-Wide United Front to Address the Labor Shortage Through its “We are Part of the Solution” Initiative
December 12, 2019 – Chattanooga, Tn. At a press conference earlier today, the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) announced the first ever industry-wide initiative, “We are Part of the Solution,” to impact the most pressing matter facing our industry - the installation crisis. The World Floor Covering Association has committed an initial seed-funding donation of $1.0M and challenges industry leaders to join with the WFCA in solving the labor shortage. This breakthrough collaborative effort will include two distinct initiatives that will serve to broaden industry support and participation. As an initial step, the WFCA has spearheaded the formation
of the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF), an organization dedicated to recruiting and training individuals in preparation for a career in the flooring industry. In another unprecedented move, to be truly inclusive of all industry partners, the WFCA has made its membership FREE to all independent floorcovering dealers.
FCEF exists to lead a collaborative network of industry and educational partners aligned to support student development, training, certification, and transition into the flooring industry workforce, but its initial focus will be on solving the installation crisis at the root level of the problem – student recruitment and education. According to the FCLC (Floor Covering Leadership Council) study, the industry will need to recruit and educate roughly 6 thousand new installers annually for the next 10 years to replace attrition in the workforce, or the crisis will deepen.
Roald Dahl said, "somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world." Since construction is our world, let's presume that somewhere inside all of us is the power to change construction.
Whether you just wrapped your first day or first month on the job, your first year or first decade, fifteenth or fiftieth year, you have something unique inside of you.
Perhaps it's your perspective. Or, it’s your perception. Your observations from the other side of the fence. Your adaptation from a different industry into ours.
No matter your background or your level of experience, your voice and knowledge is unique to you. Your knowledge is indeed power. And what good is your knowledge if it is not shared?
Well, once again, now is your chance to share that knowledge and voice by being a part of CONSTRUCT 2020, which will be held September 30 – October 2, 2020 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, TX, located in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and just minutes from DFW airport.
CONSTRUCT offers "a platform for exploring and refining innovative solutions to solve complex problems facing the AEC industry today. During the three-day educational program and two-day expo, industry leaders converge with a common goal of educating and inspiring for the betterment of the industry."
Participants at CONSTRUCT are not just looking for the same old tired box lunch sessions. CONSTRUCT is seeking solutions to real-world problems, in diverse areas such as:
In addition, unique delivery formats are desired. Instead of the standard lecture, consider utilizing a combination of learning formats, such as case studies, panel discussions with audience participation, small group discussions/peer-to-peer learning, and hands-on activities.
You have one month to gather your thoughts and turn what you’ve learned into a unique session that will build your reputation and improve the construction community. The call for education session proposals closes at 11:59 pm PT on January 8, 2020.
Be a part of CONSTRUCT 2020 and be a part of the solutions that the construction industry needs, learn how to submit your proposal and share your knowledge today!
Disclaimer: As the author of this piece, I should let it be known that I have had the honor to be on the CONSTRUCT Education Advisory Council since 2017. The Council assists CONSTRUCT show management in developing the Education Program by reviewing and grading the call for presentations submitted for consideration, providing input and suggestions for improving current and future educational activities, including recommending new and diverse educational presenters, topics, and formats.
It struck me last night while addressing the family’s fifty Christmas cards that the art of sending Holiday cards is much like creating content. And it all boils down to this:
You either make time, or you don’t.
And as a family, we’ve been good about it. Since introducing the youngest six years ago, we’ve only missed one season. When it comes down to it, it generally only takes an hour to find a few pictures, upload them to a photo website and then order them. Addressing, sealing and stamping takes another hour or so. The end result is usually delivered in two hours and off they go into the world, to live on the refrigerator or wall for a few weeks and then shuffled away into the great trashcan in the sky, or to live in a drawer with all of the other years accumulated like ours do.
So, why is it so difficult to find these two hours and get this deed done? I suppose for the same reason that it’s hard to sit down and create a piece of content: it’s about finding the time. Time is our most precious commodity, yet we cannot purchase more. No matter how many Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales we look though.
There is always something else to get done. At home, you have the chores that never stop, especially with children. Cooking. Dishes. Laundry. Daily routines. Did I mention dishes? With a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, there are always dishes. If I’m not loading the dishwasher, I’m emptying the dishwasher. If I’m not hand-washing, I’m loading or emptying the dishwasher. It. Doesn’t. Ever. Stop.
For work, or the side hustle, it’s much the same. There’s always the need for billable time. For sending invoices or collecting money. Finalizing details. Meetings. Endless meetings. Phone calls. Emails.
It then circles back around to priorities in life. Is the world going to end if they don’t see pictures of the children? Certainly not. But it’s the thought, or message, that counts. That you took time out of your day to create the card (or content), addressed, stamped and licked the envelope (or posted the blog), and passed them off to the postal service (or posted to Facebook) to hopefully spread joy onto the recipient.
Mere days into December, we’re just three weeks from Christmas Eve. I scratch my head wondering where 2019 went. 2020 starts just four weeks from tomorrow. I usually can’t find an extra two hours in my week, but as I licked the fiftieth envelope at 7:30 last night, I’m glad those 120 minutes were discovered.
Contributed by Rachel Burris
In two years Gen Z is expected to make up one-fifth of the workforce. With 40% of workers estimated to retire by 2030, the construction industry knows that it needs this generation to choose construction.
Yet the estimated workforce shortages and skills gap that we’re facing indicate a distinct lack of new workers joining the industry. The research project, “Restoring the Dignity of Work,” points out that it takes anywhere from eight to 12 years for a craft professional to go from entry-level to fully trained. With the length of time it takes to gain experience, the industry must place an emphasis on recruitment and training.
What can the industry do to start making progress in workforce development?
The first step is begin reaching parents. “Restoring the Dignity of Work” points out that parents are among the main influencers in the career-decision making process of young people. A recent survey of parents, sponsored by National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER), found that while 71% respondents would show some sort of support if their child chose a career of construction, 70% would be unlikely to actually advise their child to choose the industry.
To begin changing the perceptions of a career in construction, industry needs to engage in image enhancement campaigns. This includes using dignity in our own language by replacing terms such as “blue collar” with “craft professional” and “middle skilled” with “highly skilled.”
Other areas of image enhancement include showing how safety is held in high regard by the industry, demonstrating the career advancement opportunities available, and showcasing the high salaries that can be earned with little-to-no debt. Build Your Future has free resources industry can use to reach parents, including fact blogs, social media graphics, success stories and more.
Contributed by Liz O'Sullivan
Some dear relatives-by-marriage of mine hosted us for a Thanksgiving weekend in a warm place one year.
For Thanksgiving dinner, in addition to my husband, kids, and me, they invited some friends. Twice during the day Thursday, I asked what time people were coming over. The first time, I didn’t get an answer. The second time, I was told that the turkey should come out of the oven at 5:30, so we’d probably eat at 6:30, and that the guests would come over “whenever we tell them to.”
I went for a run, came back to an empty house, and took a shower.
So at 5:00, I was in the kitchen slicing crudités, in strange comfy clothes, with wet hair half up on my head, and wearing no mascara. My husband was still at the beach with the children, one of the hosts was on the lanai, smoking and still wearing golf clothes, and the other was in the shower…
… and the guests walked in.
They’d been told several days earlier to arrive at 5:00 on Thanksgiving. They could tell that we weren’t ready, and they appeared to be quite uncomfortable. Of the 6 adults involved in dinner, only half of us seemed to be bothered by this mixup, failure-to-communicate, lack-of-modification-of-original-instructions, whatever it was.
Surely an unusual situation, right? And those of us who were unsettled should maybe just lighten up?
Well, no. One story, two messages:
The first message: This kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME in construction communications, and in… well, let’s put my personal life aside. It shouldn’t be happening. Construction documents must communicate clearly.
Sometimes, the Instructions to Bidders document will list one time, date, or location for the bid opening, and another procurement document will indicate another. (Oh, well, it was a typo, no big deal, right? WRONG! These are legal documents! Seemingly tiny conflicts like this could cause a project to have to be bid all over again, or worse! Architects or Owners must check for consistency before issuing documents like this!)
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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