It’s common knowledge that the construction industry is facing a workforce shortage. Associated Builders and Contractors estimates that 8.2 million people were employed by the U.S. construction industry in 2018, but 440,000 still need to be hired to meet the current backlog of construction projects and future spending expectations in 2019 alone. To prepare the workforce for its future workers and leaders, Associated Builders and Contractors and its member companies have invested over $1.6 billion in workforce development in 2018 to educate their employees through training and apprenticeship programs.
Attending a trade school or participating in apprenticeship programs would help those men and women interested in the industry get a foot into the door of construction. House Bill 2784, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott into law on Oct. 24 at S & B Engineers & Constructors’ Craft Education and Skills Enhancement Center in Baytown, Texas, would encourage the private sector to develop workforce apprenticeship training programs.
The bill would create the Texas Industrial Workforce Apprenticeship grant program within the Texas Workforce Commission. In order to be eligible to receive the grant, an employer would be required to guarantee the trainee a job afterwards and provide full-time employee benefits.
The governor was joined by S & B Chairman James Slaughter, S & B President J.D. Slaughter, State Senator Carol Alvarado, State Representative Dade Phelan, Texas Workforce Commissioner Julian Alvarez, Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bill Bartie, and Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner for the bill signing.
House Bill 2784 establishes the Texas Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs Grant Program within the Texas Workforce Commission.
“The Lone Star State’s economy is stronger than ever thanks to our unrivaled workforce and companies like S & B and their employees,” said Gov. Abbott. “Texas’ greatest resource is our highly skilled workforce and it is imperative that we continue to invest in the hardworking men and women who make Texas the greatest state in the nation. I am hopeful that this program and the example set by S & B will help Texas strengthen its status as a global economic powerhouse.”
“Billions of dollars are being invested in energy and petrochemical projects along the Texas Gulf Coast,” said S & B President J.D. Slaughter. “It is imperative for our Texas economy that we have a skilled workforce that is ready and able to complete this important work. This bill enables companies, like S&B, to invest in their people—to establish robust earn-while-you-learn training programs that ensure employees have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to deliver. And creates a pathway to empowering career opportunities for unemployed and underemployed Texans.”
S & B Engineers and Constructors provides full in-house engineering, procurement direct-hire construction and fabrication services to multiple industries across the nation. S & B’s Craft Education and Skills Enhancement Center is an existing earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship program that provides hands-on training in all of the major craft disciplines, including welding, pipefitting, electrical, millwright, civil & rigging, carpentry, crane operating, ironworking, scaffolding and safety, and guarantees a job upon completion of training.