Author: Stephanie Jarnagan, Think Communications
Despite the impact of the global pandemic on the U.S. economy, many critical infrastructure projects and homebuilding across the country have seen increased activity. In Arizona, 72% of construction firms are reporting having a difficult time finding qualified workers to fill vacant craft positions, according to a September 2020 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Nationally, the number remains high at 52%. The lack of qualified workers continues to have a strained impact on the industry and may impede the economic recovery, particularly in the Southwest.
“The shortage of skilled craft workers is even more staggering here in Arizona because construction is a major economic engine that fuels numerous other industries,” says Justin Dent, senior vice president of operations for McCarthy Building Companies. “We must continue our laser focus on workforce development to ensure our industry as a whole has enough qualified workers to support future growth.”
The challenge is not a new one for Arizona’s construction industry. In fact, a diverse coalition of industry partners has already come together under the Build Your Future Arizona (BYF Arizona) initiative being spearheaded by the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation.
As a Champion investor in the campaign, McCarthy Building Companies believes strongly in BYF Arizona’s mission to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce by raising awareness about high-paying construction careers and training opportunities, and mapping career paths to employment in these high-demand occupations.
“Arizona has really hit the ground running and made a tremendous impact in a short amount of time,” says Jennifer Mellor, Chief Innovation Officer of the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation. “This campaign is helping to propel Arizona’s construction industry forward and is key in closing this critical talent gap.”
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at the high school level have long been critical in their support of numerous trades, including industries that are most in need of skilled essential workers: healthcare, construction, and manufacturing. Today, there are 14 Career Technical Education Districts offering CTE programming in Arizona.
West-MEC (Western Maricopa Education Center) and EVIT (East Valley Institute of Technology) are two of the Maricopa County-based districts working to fill these industries’ needs. West-MEC has several programs that fall under the construction umbrella, and five years ago, the school launched a General Construction Technology core program with the support of local businesses and industry. A similar Construction Technologies program is offered at EVIT.
McCarthy Building Companies and others in the construction industry have been supporters and advocates of both West-MEC and EVIT’s construction programs since their inception, and the results are already paying off. McCarthy serves on the Industry Advisory Board for West-MEC’s HVAC program and has hired several graduates in recent years. Tanner Ray, a graduate of West-MEC’s construction program who went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University, was recently hired by McCarthy as a project engineer.
While interest in CTE is on the rise, Gregory Donovan, superintendent of West-MEC, cautions, “We cannot turn out enough students to support the needs of industry for quality, educated workers. Our ultimate goal is to produce students like Tanner who have earned industry credentials, but we need a well-rounded recruitment campaign and that’s why efforts like Build Your Future Arizona are important.”
Antonya Williams, vice chair on the Executive Board for the ACE Mentor Program of America (ACE) Phoenix affiliate and senior vice president at McCarthy Building Companies, agrees. ACE is a national mentoring program for high school students that inspires them to pursue careers in architecture, construction, and engineering (thus, the acronym ACE).
“Through mentorship we can reach underrepresented segments in the construction industry like women, for example, and show them what a career in construction looks like today,” Williams says. “Through engaging and interactive lessons and project tours we show students that our industry offers rewarding careers to those who take pride in workmanship and value skills like problem-solving, collaboration, and innovation.”
Beyond high school, there are also workforce development initiatives gaining popularity at community colleges across the state, including within the Maricopa Community Colleges District where Darcy Renfro was recently named chief workforce and economic development officer. She is helping to lead the Maricopa Transformation to fundamentally transform the student experience to meet the education and employment needs of the community.
One of the district’s construction-focused programs is located at South Mountain Community College, where McCarthy’s Michael Gonzalez serves on the college’s advisory board and was instrumental in helping to get the program off the ground and introduce more students to rewarding careers in the construction industry.
“Programs like this at South Mountain Community College have helped students see new opportunities,” Gonzalez says. “I have found my career in construction to be incredibly rewarding and came into it later in life. My hope is that others who are looking for a fulfilling career where you can actually say you were part of building our community will look at construction and see the vast opportunities here.”
Part of the workforce shortage can be attributed to image. Construction careers are still perceived as low paying when, in fact, earnings in construction are higher than the average for all industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“In the past, vocational training earned a reputation as a place for students without bright futures,” Donovan says. “Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Our students are more likely to graduate, score better on standardized tests, and have developed an interest in a career pathway, resulting in a more relevant education.”
In addition to CTE programs and organizations like ACE, public and private sectors are coming together to develop solutions that address the skilled construction worker shortage through robust educational policy, post-secondary school programs, scholarship programs, and apprenticeship training opportunities. Companies like McCarthy are addressing the issue by bolstering best-in-class recruiting and training programs that attract quality talent who hold national accreditations and certifications.
McCarthy and others in the construction industry are investing in these and other workforce training programs through Build Your Future, West-MEC, EVIT, and the Maricopa County Community Colleges Foundation in the form of scholarships, program training support, recruiting events, and various other ways to ensure students have access to programs that are helping to train tomorrow’s diverse and talented workforce. микрозайм онлайн займ на карту без отказа без проверки мгновенногде лучше брать займзайм без отказа 100 займ по паспорту срочносрочный онлайн займ на картусрочно нужен займ что такое займ под материнский капиталчастный займ в ростовезайм 200000