May 14, 2015

Generational Shifts: Workforce Development

I was a guest speaker recently at a local home builders association's (HBA) board meeting in Pennsylvania discussing membership and of course, the next generation of member. After the discussion took place the first vice president came up to me, thanked me for my "enlightening words," and then reminded me that the next generation of member, builder and associate, can't be successful because we are not making an effort to establish a healthy workforce development program. She asked me if I knew if the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) was involved with any programs. I researched the newly renovated, because this is not a subject matter with which I am familiar. This is what I found and promptly sent her the following links; 

  • Home Builders Institute (click here)
    HBI, a member of the NAHB Federation, is a nationally prominent nonprofit that assesses, trains, certifies and provides industry job placements for the home building industry.  The HBI is the largest National Training Contractor for the Department of Labor in the Job Corps program and also trains through their Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) program.  Populations served by the HBI include underserved and at-risk youth, adult offenders and ex-offenders, existing veterans and active military personnel soon to separate from the service and displaced and unemployed workers. HBI’s programs are in  over 275 locations in 42 states.
  • Members Only: NAHB's Workforce Development Policy (click here)
  • NAHB Student Chapter Web Page (click here) 

For my last article on generational shifts, I would like to look at and explore the last piece to the next generation puzzle; workforce development. As mentioned, I wasn't familiar with the workforce development issue but I am much closer now. It seems to me that NAHB has been extremely proactive when it comes to making sure we have workers, let alone members, in the upcoming years, and I'm wondering how many local HBAs know that there is quite a bit of information from NAHB to be utilized. What actions, if any, are we taking to work with the students? Years ago the thought was if your child was not academically prepared for college  people used the phrase "that's 'OK,'the world needs ditch diggers, too." According to ridiculous folklore, vocational schools were for the "book challenged." Today, we are faced with a skilled labor shortage and, while immigration will certainly help, I would like to see a healthy influx of American made talent in our ranks. In this global economy in which we now all reside, the college educated youth of America are seeing their potential jobs moving towards the outsource lane, with no speed limit. So learning a trade, which is an admirable and respectable way to earn income, is a realistic choice. In fact, these vocational schools would be prudent to have college courses on business management so that the student not only learns a trade but can create their own business for their trade.

Why should educators, builders and HBAs work together to address the building industry workforce issues in their communities?
·         The shortage of skilled workers across the entire spectrum of the home building industry is a major problem, and there are also concerns about the quality of the current workforce.

·         Without action and NAHB member involvement, labor shortages are likely to continue.

·         A concerted collaborative effort that reaches the nation’s educators and high school students can be an effective way to address some of the issues that have contributed to chronic labor shortages and misperceptions of the industry.

·         Builders can help their communities grow and prosper; educators want to be able to direct their students toward meaningful employment and career choices.

By 2018, fields like construction and manufacturing will provide nearly 8 million job openings, 2.7 million of which will require a post-secondary credential.

                *Harvard Graduate School of Education

The construction industry will need more than 2 million new trade professionals by the year 2017.

                *Harvard Graduate School of Education

70% of employers state that they would pay significantly more to get qualified employees.

                *McKinsey Global Institute

Establishing an NAHB High School Student Chapter

Developing an NAHB Student Chapter in the school will, of course provide greater access to industry leaders and resources for those students who are showing particular interest in industry-related career paths.

As part of their membership, students can participate in national competitions, and attend industry conferences. They have direct access to a network of builders and associates members, who can help them enhance their career exploration efforts and, eventually, their careers.

Student Chapters also provide a mechanism for educators to become directly involved with the local HBA and NAHB.

Connect to Local Home Builders Associations

Student Chapters provide students the skills they need for direct access to the industry, internships and jobs through more than 700 local home builder associations across the country. Establishing a Student Chapter at your school is easy and certainly should be on your list for the upcoming academic year. It’s a great way to give students an out of classroom experience.

HBA Role as Resource

One of the greatest values of NAHB High School Student Chapters is that it connects a school and its students with professionals from the residential building industry who have a genuine interest in making students aware of careers, and offering them a chance to explore and experience those careers.

NAHB members can play a key role in career exploration activities in the school and out in the community.

·         Serve on the career advisory committee at your local technical high school

·         Host meetings at their workplace

·         Get involved in the school’s career fair or career day events

·         Host an industry—focused career fair open to the community

·         Participate in National Groundhog Job Shadow Day on February 2, inviting members to provide job shadowing experiences for groups of students

·         Conduct informational interviews and hold job tryouts at member business locations

·         Offer students internships

·         Invite students to HBA events

Raise Awareness of Construction Careers

Increase public awareness of the hard work and economic contributions of the building industry in your community and increase students’ interest in pursuing construction as a career.

Ideas for activities:

·         Ask a local construction site to host a field trip. Arrange for students to tour the site and gather first-hand information on what it takes to have a successful career in construction.

·         Help students prepare for a career in construction by coordinating a resume building session. Provide interview and resume tips. Students can search for careers and post resumes when they are finished.

·         Place an article or ad in your local newspaper on careers in construction and the value of construction professionals.

·         Sponsor a contest having students describe their favorite family member involved in construction. All contest participants’ projects could then be displayed in a local school or business.

·         Assemble a panel consisting of at least one construction student, one experienced construction trades professional and one construction business owner. Panel members can host a question and answer session to discuss local career opportunities for students.

·         Request a proclamation from your mayor/governor declaring a certain month Careers in Construction Trades Month.

·         Host a press conference. Discuss an important building issue in your community; release findings of a local survey; honor a local construction organization or employee; or bestow an honorary skilled trade title to a deserving politician.


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