MC&MCA tackles workforce development head on
Minnesota construction industry trade associations form workforce development working group
By Gary Botzek
The Minnesota Concrete & Masonry Contractors Association (MC&MCA) participated in an organizing working group meeting on workforce development, hosted by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, in late-May.
MC&MCA board member Christa Seaberg of JE Dunn attended, representing the Association of Women Contractors. Executive Director Gary Botzek represented the MC&MCA.
Employee shortages in the construction trades is universal, thus the desire and strategy for a number of association leaders to meet to discuss what they are doing to recruit employees into their portion of the industry.
The group discussed options for joint or shared messaging and other strategies to encourage, recruit, train and retain workers in the construction industry. Some of the trade groups in attendance included the Associated General Contractors (AGC), Associated Builders and Contractors, North American Remodeling Industry-MN, Minnesota Electrical Association, The Builders Group, Association of Women Contractors, Northwest Lumberman’s Association, Aggregate and Ready Mix Association of Minnesota, Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Builders Exchange of MN.
According to the AGC, the construction industry added 273,000 jobs during the last year, including 17,000 in May. Construction employment is the highest it has been since February 2009.
Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 8,500 jobs since April and 149,300 jobs in the last 12 months.
Commercial construction contractors, including building, specialty, trade, heavy and civil engineering firms, netted 8,600 workers for the month and have gained 124,000 jobs since May 2014.
Obvious threats to future construction growth are tight labor markets and political gridlock that could curtain public-private section construction spending. Unemployment rates in Minnesota stood at 3.8 percent in May, compared to the national average of 5.5 percent. The Minnesota workforce stands at 3,036,950 workers, which is 70.8 percent of the population. Competition for construction workers in Minnesota is tight and tough.
The group agreed that planning for growth and reductions needs to be done in good and bad construction times. Planning, recruitment and training will be the key to regular, steady recruitment into the construction industry. Advancement in job responsibilities and pay grade will continue to be paramount.
The organizations shared details of the past, current and future plans to attach and recruit workers into their aspects of the construction industry. The group talked about the value of scholarships; the need for a speaker’s bureau to get a strong construction message out, targeting certain age groups and audiences with specific messages; involving parents; and increasing the use of school visits and career fairs. The attendees also discussed the need for a strong partnership with state agencies in the promotion of the construction industry. Future meetings are expected.
About the Author
Gary Botzek is executive director of the Minnesota Concrete & Masonry Contractors Association. He can be reached at Gary@capitolconnections.com.