On Friday, March 17, 2017, more than 200 guests attended the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston (ABC) and Construction & Maintenance Education Foundation’s (CMEF) membership breakfast at Brady’s Landing to hear from industry leaders about the importance of investing in training and actively participating with groups to alleviate the labor workforce shortage.
Guest speakers, Roy Watson with Chevron Phillips Chemical, EHCMA Workforce Development Committee Chair; Barry Klein, Shell Deer Park General Manager, EHCMA Workforce Development Steering Team Chair; and Michael Richter, CMEF Vice President of Education & Workforce Development each spent time engaging the audience on the importance of investing in community-based training programs and being proud of the construction industry.
“It’s the mission of EHCMA and our industry partners to attract, train, and retain talent for our workforce,” said Klein. “We’re now working collectively—contractors, educators, community colleges, associations—to effectively solve this labor shortage issue.”
Community-based training is not only cost effective, it prevents companies from duplicating efforts and allows the industry to establish a training standard that can be applied across the board.
Richter presented information about a program that fosters a commitment to a safe and knowledgeable workforce through training and education— the Training Contributor Agreement (TCA). Partners pledge their commitment to a safe, skilled and knowledgeable craft workforce by agreeing to commit a minimum of $.06 per job site work hour to support community-based craft training and workforce development programs, provided through CMEF.
Training contributors and their employees can experience more than 85% savings on semester based training through the agreement, deeply discounted training opportunities, customized training solutions, and wider training availability. Leaders such as Klein and Watson not only understand the importance of joining forces to provide training, they have gotten their companies and organizations involved to take action.
Watson emphasized the importance of supporting programs like TCA and how they operate as a conduit for the industry. He then shared his eye-opening experience after becoming EHCMA’s Workforce Development Committee Chair about the disconnect between education institutions and the contractors.
“Our industry relies heavily on the semester-based programs at the junior colleges to train the next workforce, and it’s time for that formula to improve,” said Watson. “It’s important for educators to understand that the training provided has to be applicable to a full-time work schedule and a real-world work site.”
Klein drove the point home by declaring it was time for the construction industry to engage with others to speak about the impact the industry has on the world.
“I hear a lot of news stations, groups, and individuals talking about this entity named Big Oil,” said Klein. “I don’t know what ‘Big Oil’ looks like. When I show up to work every day; I see people—with their own personal stories and journeys—like we have here today in this room. They are the reasons we invest in community-based training.”
Funds from the Training Contributor Agreement are also applied towards workforce development initiatives such as the CMEF High School Outreach program. To date, 43 local high schools are designated as Accredited Training and Education Facilities and are partnered with ABC/ CMEF. Honored at the breakfast was a student, Israel Picon, a student at Dr. Kirk Lewis Career & Technical High School, won the Gold medal in Structural Welding at the National Craft Championships held during ABC National’s Workforce Week. Overall, More than 5,000 students are benefitting from the contributions made by companies in support of community-based training and filling the pipeline with qualified employees.
“EHCMA and owner companies such as Shell have stepped up and volunteered their time and resources to the workforce solutions on the table, it’s now time for fellow ABC members, supporters, owners, contractors, and others to do the same,” said Russell Hamley, President of ABC Greater Houston Chapter.