By: G. David Sload, ABC President-CEO

Workforce Development has become one of the hottest terms in our industry over the last two years, and it will only continue to get hotter. You can’t talk to any employer or read any article without the term being mentioned or talked about. It has become popular for politicians to talk about workforce development because they know that is on their constituents’ minds. But what really is ‘Workforce Development?’

Let’s start by recognizing that our pipeline of potential employees is dry. Where are all the experienced construction craft professionals? They’re employed…and if they aren’t, there is probably a good reason. Looking at statistics of the retirements in the next ten years, this dilemma is only going to compound. Therefore, the need for comprehensive Workforce Development is growing.

ABC Keystone is approaching filling the pipeline from two strategic points, both long term and short term. For the long term, we need to start with career awareness throughout an individual’s K-12 education experience. Our middle school “Construction Wars” program has reached over 600 students and 80 educators over the last 18 months. In addition, during the last four months of 2018, we reached 580 students and educators with our High School initiatives.

We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement to be named the Main Exhibit Sponsor for a new interactive construction exhibit at the Hands-on House Children’s Museum of Lancaster. This display will exist for at least the next 10 years and will allow over 27,000 children and 29,000 adults annually to interact with and learn about our industry.

You can see we have the long-term solution well on its way. Now for the short term. During 2019, Keystone will be kicking off several training programs for adults that are under-employed or just re-entering the work place. These programs will be funded by grants and partnerships. At their conclusion, the students will have the skills to become a great entry level construction craft professional. Should they become employed and eventually find their way into one of our apprenticeship programs, they will be given credit for ½ of the first year in our program.

They key to the short-term strategy will be you, the members, stepping up and being willing to hire entry-level employees with some knowledge of the industry and then helping them advance their careers. This brings me to maintaining the pipeline. If you have good construction craft professionals, what are you doing to keep them? Are you providing competitive wages and benefits? Are you providing ongoing education and training? Have you created a culture of growth and advancement?

ABC Keystone is here to be part of your workforce solution. Will it happen overnight? No, but between the programs, education and training we provide we can certainly make it less painful. Let us be your partner in this workforce development process.

February 6, 2019