Brad Curtis, Chair of the MBMA said in this column in November: “ The MBMA has become more engaged with the MBCEA so that together we can enhance the reputation of our industry. Just as a rising tide lifts all ships, MBMA members are AC472 accredited and now MBCEA members are achieving AC478 accreditation. This commitment to quality says one thing to all potential owners, architects, and developers: We don’t just talk about quality; we prove it through our commitment to third –party accreditation by the International Accreditation Service.”
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Curtis but would even take it one step further. We not only need to enhance the reputation of our industry but perhaps more importantly – our trade. Construction journals continue to bemoan the labour shortage in construction. In my home state of Colorado, according to a study by the Association of General Contractor’s, it is estimated that we will need at least 30,000 more workers in the construction field in the next 6 years, a number that does not take into account those who will retire. To help fill this gap, the State passed a bill pledging $10 million over three years to fund free training for plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Yet the training companies can’t fill the seats.
High schools are singularly focused on preparing kids for college. The kid who may be better suited for vocation work or the trades is widely ignored. We’ve demonized working with our hands in this country.
Leaders across all industries are looking ahead and predicting labor shortages as baby boomers retire. Executives know that they'll have to draw today's young people into their respective industries to counter those shortages. Officials in the construction industry are no different than their counterparts in other fields. However, these executives said they have an added challenge: overcoming misconceptions about what it means to be a construction worker.
What does the typical person think of when they hear the term construction worker: unskilled, low pay, wolf whistles, and builder’s bums (aka plumber’s cracks.) Not exactly your top career choice. The term ‘”construction worker” covers all manner of types of work, skills, training and specialisms, yet we continue to be lumped together and labelled with the same old stereotypes. These perceptions influence whether or not young people are willing to give the trades, and in particular, the metal building trade a shot.
NCCER is working hard to coin the phrase “craft professional.” Although I don’t really see it rolling off Johnny’s tongue on career day it does much better describe who we are and what we do. Today’s complicated projects take training and skill to complete. Our new materials and methods require specialist training. The men and women who assemble our metal buildings make good money and should take pride in knowing that their work is a craft. Metal Building Assembly should be considered a career and not just a job.
Readers of this magazine, know it would be impossible to complete a successful construction project if we really did live up to the stereotype. Members of the MBCEA are dedicated to safety, training and education. Programs like AC478 are designed not just to create a standard but to change public perception and to enhance our reputation. The MBCEA and MBMA, through programs like AC472 and AC478 are committed to the enhancement of our metal building industry and our trade. But we can’t do it without you. If you are not a member, I encourage you to consider joining. Attend our Conference in New Orleans on May 18-20th. You, your business and our industry will be stronger if you do.
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