By: G. David Sload, President-CEO, ABC Keystone

Workforce Development has become the buzz phrase being bantered about everywhere. We hear it from employers, educators, state government and even in the recent State of the Union message. While it is FINALLY great to hear about the skilled trades on all fronts, do we really know what it means to have Workforce Development?

ABC Keystone has been working hard the last several years to be able to serve the members on this front. Our new three-year strategic plan weaves Workforce Development throughout many of the initiatives set forth.

Workforce Development can be defined in two simple stages:

Stage One – filling the pipeline. With our pipeline of skilled tradesmen drying up, how do we fill it? As an industry we must get proactive on many fronts. We need to start in our school systems to educate counselors, students and parents on the virtues of becoming “Skilled Craft Professionals.” ABC Keystone will hold its fourth Construction Wars on October 16, 17, and 18, 2018 for middle school students. This hands-on interactive event is an ideal way to engage them in the industry. Then on October 20, 2018, we will hold the 2018 Apprenticeship Craft Competition and Construction Trades Discovery Day, which will include an event developed for high school students designed to expose them to the world of apprenticeship as well as potential employers and the careers they have to offer.

Another focus of stage one is the under-employed. Within our geographic footprint we have many people, that given the right opportunity, would be great employees. ABC Keystone is working on several pre-apprenticeship initiatives that will give this person the tools to become a great entry-level employee. With time, these employees can become your future skilled workforce.

Stage Two – maintaining the pipeline. When the workforce gets thin, employees flee for better opportunities. It is not always about money, but it is about other ways you take care of your employees (your assets).

Employers need to continue to develop their employees…ergo Workforce Development. We need to continue to train and enhance their skills to make them the best they can be.

ABC Keystone is here to provide these needs. From safety, to trade upgrades, to leadership development, we offer it. The great news is, if there is something you need that we don’t offer, we will look to find it and develop it. Chances are, if you need it, so does another member.

Let’s all get involved in Workforce Development. Let’s all help to educate our young people on the great careers our industry has to offer. Let’s continue to improve and enhance our current workforce by giving them the tools to be great skilled craft professionals.

Let’s fill and maintain the pipeline.