CEO Mike Brewer of Brewer Companies has 30 well-paying, career-making jobs open right now, waiting to be filled by adequately trained and properly motivated people. His challenge in filling these jobs is twofold. He needs to draw interest by effectively promoting construction-industry careers and to find qualified people to take the positions. Brewer Companies is far from alone in its plight.
Brewer’s 30 open positions are but a fraction of at least 10,000 open construction-industry jobs right now in Arizona paying an average of $49,000 per year, according to industry data. The industry is not alone in its challenges in understanding and responding to the current landscape of open jobs, training programs, apprenticeships and educational offerings.
So when the construction industry approached the Chamber with this significant, yet ultimately fixable challenge, we saw a perfect opportunity to use our ability as a convening organization to help craft a solution. The goal is to better understand industry needs and align training provider outcomes to meet those demands.
Our Construction Workforce Collaborative, developed under our Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation, is already tackling this task. Led by co-chairs Brewer and Mike Bontrager, senior vice president of Adolfson & Peterson Construction, the collaborative unites companies, educators, elected officials and organizations for the purpose of crafting a comprehensive solution for filling the 10,000 jobs open right now – and the thousands more which will be created in the near future.
As I have said before and I will continue to say, the key here is collaboration. The Construction Workforce Collaborative is bringing the industry together to standardize construction education requirements so everyone is speaking the same language; to put company CEOs face-to-face with educators to ensure their programs are producing graduates with the skills the industry needs; and to battle a negative stigma associated with construction industry careers.
This work is going on right now.
Our collaborative recently brought together construction industry and education leaders at GateWay Central City Campus, a part of the Maricopa County Community College District, to discuss workforce challenges and understand educational solutions. I was very encouraged by the results of this important first step. A special thanks goes out to Chairman Steve Smith for his leadership in convening the Senate Commerce Committee just prior to our meeting at GateWay to highlight the current workforce challenges facing the construction industry as well as the incredible opportunity to put thousands of Arizonans to work.
If you’re in the construction industry in the Greater Phoenix region and missed our initial tour, I invite you to participate in our next tour of construction trade workforce programs at Metro Tech High School this Thursday, Sept. 7.
Building a trained workforce via a multitude of collaborating partners gives Arizona a competitive edge in our quest to grow great Arizona businesses and attract new ones to our region. I encourage you to join us!