ABC Keystone

By: G. David Sload, ABC President-CEO

If you haven’t noticed, this tag line shows up on ABC Keystone letterhead, business cards and publications. What does it really mean?

Let’s take a look at our industry. Have you lately tried to find an unemployed professional craftsperson to hire? If you come across one, and you determine he/she has a good attitude and reasonable work ethic, you’d better hire him quickly.

To say that they don’t exist is an understatement. A week does not go by where we here at ABC Keystone get calls to see if we know anyone that is laid off or is a potential apprenticeship candidate that is looking to enter our industry. If we think it is going to get better, we need to realize that 40% of our industry will retire over the next 12 years. In addition, if the Federal Government ever gets around to passing an infrastructure bill, our industry ends up a few hundred thousand additional craft professionals short.

There is some hope. The educational tide has begun to shift, and ABC Keystone is helping to change the narrative. Where “College for All” was once the mantra, alternative career paths have started to infiltrate the K-12 education system. All of us in this industry know that 80% of our contractor members are small to midsize companies. We also know that most of the owners of these companies started out working in the ditch. Our industry is a true career path to achieving the American dream.

We are getting the message out. Our outreach has created a buzz, and we are becoming the resource for information on the construction industry. In the first four months of this year, we interacted directly with 1,915 students and educators, and this is not through the typical career fairs. We host schools, students (both middle and high school), and educators at our facility for tours and presentations on career path opportunities in our industry.

We are the first registered apprenticeship program in Pennsylvania to have a registered pre-apprenticeship program.

Pre-apprenticeship is the vehicle by which we work with the secondary school system to provide them a program that will articulate students into a full registered apprenticeship program. In addition, we have partnered with a Berks County re-entry program and a graduated senior’s program. To date, we now have 14 articulation agreements signed and several others in the works.

You see, we are Building Minds of young people through our awareness programs. We are Building Skills of our next generation of construction craft professionals through our registered pre-apprenticeship and our registered apprenticeship programs. We are Building Futures by educating tomorrow’s construction company business owners. You, the members, have helped by employing and training young people for our industry. For this, we thank you.

Together we can keep the ship turning and open the eyes of young people, their parents and educators to the many career-building opportunities in construction.

May 29, 2019