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ENR Sections Spotlight on Labor : Page 1

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION PHOTO: COURTESY OF OPERATING ENGINEERS TRAINING TRUST IUOE Local 12 Apprentice Coordinator Dan Cox (left) and Kiewit Corp. Foreman Ron Newton observe excavation work for a stadium project in Inglewood, Calif. Opinions expressed are those of the advertisers. Spotlight on Labor Apprenticeships Pave Path to Career Advancement Specialized training improves workers’ lives and enhances projects By Erica Bender WHAT’S INSIDE N Flagship Training Hub Elevates Carpentry Skills Apprenticeship Model Builds Construction Careers Recent Changes in Prevailing Wage Compliance Association Advocates for Union-Affiliated Contractors Historic Partnership Advances Water Conservation Efforts N N N N ?, 2017 | ?1

Apprenticeships Pave Path To Career Advancement

Erica Bender

Specialized training improves workers’ lives and enhances projects

Unions Provide Skilled Workforce Solutions That Build American Opportunity

For the past seven years, skilled trades have been reported as the most difficult jobs to fill in the United States, according to Manpower Group’s latest Talent Shortage Survey. A shortage of available, qualified applicants is the main reason employers have trouble filling these positions. This challenge is compounded by more baby boomers aging into retirement, further depleting the ranks and taking with them invaluable knowledge and experience in both hard and soft skills.

“Historically, coming out of recessions, there is always a skilled labor shortage. In many cases, since recessions reduce the amount of available construction work, people with ‘time’ retire, and others just move on to other jobs,” says Agustin “Augie” Beltran, director of public and governmental relations for the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (NCCRC).

Despite the Great Recession’s brutal toll on economics nationwide, construction industry employment is up by 2.4% on a year-over-year basis, per a December 2016 analysis released by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The organization further concluded that construction industry employment growth would likely be much sharper if more suitably skilled or trainable workers were available to fill job openings.

“The implication is that demand for construction workers is positioned to remain high, which will translate into gradual reduction in industry unemployment and significant wage pressures,” ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu says.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that the construction industry will add 790,400 jobs by 2024. An August 2016 report published by California’s Employment Development Dept. reveals that construction and extraction occupations are among the fastest-growing jobs in the state (28.3%), and three-quarters of these job openings stem from replacement needs vs. job growth.

Apprenticeships Build Viable Careers, Replenish Talent Pipeline

One way the union construction sector works to solve staffing challenges and produce a steady stream of highly trained workers is with apprenticeship programs. This parallel or alternate pathway to college not only replenishes the industry’s workforce but also has a profound impact on America’s ability to rebuild its cities, energy systems, roads, bridges and transit systems.

“Our infrastructure is aging and decaying,” Southern California District Council of Laborers Business Manager Armando Esparza says. “There is a need for men and women who are going to be responsible for retrofitting, erecting and constructing our infrastructure. They are the workers in specialized industries who build our roads, pave our freeways, lay the railroad tracks and build our water systems so that we can have drinkable water.”

Apprenticeships equip individuals with specialized skills and knowledge needed to perform a variety of tasks. These paid, on-the-job learning opportunities also make it more feasible to establish well-paid, long-term careers. Larry Hopkins, director of training for the Operating Engineers Training Trust, an affiliate of the International Union of Operating Engineers, says, “California statistics indicate that, on average, a skilled union tradesman can earn an income equal to or more than many jobs that require college degrees.”

Hopkins also notes that union-sponsored apprentices possess a sophisticated respect for safety protocols in the workplace. “Formalized training increases safety,” he says. “The accident rate is 31% higher nationwide for nonunion organizations that don’t have bonified, certified apprenticeship programs. Unions are organized, well-funded and do a great job of using hand-picked, seasoned instructors to transfer their knowledge to newer members of the industry.”

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