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SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION Opinions expressed are those of the advertisers. Education, Training & Career Development Today Emphasizing Engagement Industry leaders spotlight innovative ideas for workforce development and career growth opportunities By Vicki Speed Sponsored by October 31, 2016 | E1

Emphasizing Engagement

Vicki Speed

Industry leaders spotlight innovative ideas for workforce development and career growth opportunities

Rebuilding a Workforce with Alternative Approaches

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported more than $1.1 trillion in total construction put-in-place spending, a figure that is expected to rise considerably in coming years. This growth creates tremendous opportunities for all industry professionals—if those charged with constructing tomorrow’s buildings and infrastructure find ways to recruit, retain and reward talent.

In today’s environment, workforce development is a business imperative. And, like the old adage about raising children, it will take the entire village to build the next-generation construction workforce.

Community Connections

Across the country, industry leaders are pulling together to develop a strong and diverse pipeline of professional and craftworker talent. One excellent example is in the city of Atlanta.

Atlanta is currently in the midst of one of its largest-ever construction booms that includes a number of mega projects, such as the $1.5-billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium (home of the NFL Atlanta Falcons and MLS Atlanta United). The demand for talent, both professional and skilled workers, in the area is immense and has led to some innovative workforce development programs.

In 2014, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation teamed with the Integrity Community Development Corp. (Integrity CDC), New Hope Enterprises, Levy Restaurants, Per Scholas, Invest Atlanta and the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) to form an innovative long-term program as a way to help transform Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood by providing training and job opportunities as part of the stadium construction and beyond.

Since then, Scott Shelar, president and CEO of CEFGA, says, “Westside Works has become a terrific collaborative effort to create employment opportunities and foster job success by helping Westside residents learn new skills in a variety of industries from construction to health care. Of course, our focus is building our construction workforce.”

As part of the program, CEFGA facilitates a four-week foundational program that introduces adults to basic skills, such as the use of hand and power tools. These individuals are then eligible for entry-level jobs with stadium contractors, such as Holder Construction Co., the managing partner for Holder, Hunt, Russell, Moody, the stadium’s joint-venture construction team.

Greer Gallagher, vice president for Holder Construction, a CEFGA partner, says, “Through this program, we and our many subcontractors are able to provide residents real stepping stones to great careers in our industry, all while building a strong pipeline of talent for our industry.”

As of October 2016, Westside Works has placed more than 350 Westside residents in living-wage jobs.

Fostering Loyalty

While attracting the next generation of talent often dominates today’s headlines, companies like Holder Construction, Dragados USA, Lane Construction and many others are also focused on retention.

Michael Bellaman, president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC), confirms, “Every company wants the best talent available.

The challenge is to figure out how to position your company to tap into the entire talent pool—and then keep them. It’s a strategic business decision.”

Through its annual National Diversity Excellence Awards program, ABC honors member companies who have introduced innovative and effective recruitment policies, retention practices, and training and mentoring programs. Bellaman says that one of the most effective best practices that he’s noted from honorees is the creation of focused employee resource groups.

These employee-driven groups are formed to find ways to attract, nurture, retain and reward the best talent from specific groups, such as minorities, women, military veterans or those in underserved communities.

Bellaman says, “Focus groups are highly effective at attracting new talent. Perhaps just as importantly, members of these groups feel more engaged with their company’s strategic growth. They help shape hiring practices, benefits packages, performance and career growth tracks, continuing education and training programs, etc. They are effectively authoring their company’s future—and that’s incredibly rewarding to employees no matter the size of the company and one powerful way to ensure retention of today’s top talent.”

Read on to see how other organizations are emphasizing engagement and empowerment as a way to build the next-generation workforce

Read the full article at

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