It's An Image Problem
Contributed by Thad Goodman
This site wants to Fix Construction. We could debate for years if it’s even broken. But for the sake of positive momentum, let’s say everything can use improvement.
One of the bigger issues we have currently is labor. Or should I say a lack of it. Let’s work on that.
First let’s examine how we got here. If you don’t know where you are at, you will never figure out how to get where you are going.
For decades construction has been relegated to second tier citizenship.
Think about who is delivering this message. College educated guidance counselors. Our youth and their parents are being given directions to learning institutions by people who came out of, and make their living from - you guessed it - learning institutions.
I don’t blame them for the way they think. It worked for them. There are many, many good white collar professions out there, including architects and engineers. These counselors are trained to see things a certain way, rewarded by school systems who tout their graduation rates and college admission numbers. They are good at their jobs. I do blame them for not presenting both sides of the story to parents who trust and listen to them.
The Rest of the Story
There is a second option. Construction provides a better outlet for many who are just not interested in continued schoolwork. Not everyone is cut out to sit at a desk. There are those who are good with their hands, good with abstract problem solving in real time. Pushing this type of young person to college and deep into college debt often hurts that individual and our economy. How many young people do you know buried in student loans working at the local retail mall?
Our school systems are good at rating the skillsets of our young people. Let’s give them a solid set of options for each type of student.
Let’s raise construction as an option in the eyes of the world.
When I say - Let’s - I mean Let us!
We are a dominant workforce. The numbers of people who make their living in the Built Environment is huge. Our industry can gain ground quickly if each of us starts getting out into our schools and our communities to talk about what we do and how we feel about it. Talk to parents to educate them on the opportunities of getting right into the workplace, learning a trade, getting educated in an Industry.
This message is important. Each of us can:
One of the most effective marketing tools I have seen was a comparison sheet of two young adults. One went to college, came out with 10’s of thousands of dollars in debt, starting work four years later at the bottom of the Corporate Ladder. The other one started learning a trade from day one; four years later had experience and money to pay for less expensive schooling in the local community college construction management program, using his job experience to grow into the job trailer. Guess who had more money and was farther ahead at 40?
I am interested in those reading this to share a story of what construction means to you and how it’s affected your life in a positive way. I am collecting stories to tell as I travel out to meet young people all over the country. Me? Yes, I have a story. That’s for another post. In the meantime, I can’t wait to hear yours.
8/22/2017 05:05:55 pm
I undertook a survey at a recent church gathering, asking fellow members to describe a typical construction worker.
Would Rather Not Say.
8/23/2017 11:21:38 am
I do mostly public work in California. My installers work for me most of the summer doing school construction and during the school year they do mostly high end residential work and other light commercial. I spend the school year selling to the AED community to fill up the project pipeline.
8/23/2017 12:47:31 pm
8/23/2017 11:36:27 pm
Motivated American teenagers in 2017 don't seem to be attracted to the idea of working in construction with union representation under the standard terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement. They shy away from class consciousness and the idea that the boss is an adversary.
8/29/2017 10:42:01 am
Here's a recent article on President Trump's apprenticeship initiative that relates to this discussion: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2017/08/28/trump-gets-something-right-apprenticeships-and-social-mobility/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=55726788
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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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