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Bringing the Industry Together to Address Workforce Shortages

BY STEPHEN E. SANDHERR
AGC CEO

The inaugural National Construction Industry Workforce Summit will offer a unique opportunity to learn about successful workforce development efforts, network with contractors, association leaders and educators who are involved in workforce development and help develop new nationwide solutions to chronic construction labor shortages.’

AGC of America has been at the forefront of the construction industry’s efforts to address workforce shortages. We have successfully educated media and policymakers about the scope of workforce shortages and their impacts on the broader economy. We have secured new federal career and technical education funding. Our diversity and inclusion efforts are helping diversify the industry. And our Construction is Essential digital advertising campaign is enabling the industry to reach new workers.

Now we are bringing together workforce development professionals from member firms, AGC chapters and the education sector for the inaugural AGC of America National Construction Industry Workforce Summit. The summit, which is taking place on October 13 in St. Louis, Missouri, is designed to bring together leaders in the construction and workforce development community to focus on establishing solutions to chronic worker shortages. During this day-long summit, construction and workforce development professionals will learn about successful programs that are helping recruit, develop and retain high-quality construction professionals.

Attendees will work together to address specific workforce challenges, like crafting a message for caregivers that construction careers are the right choice for their children and attracting more women into the industry. We are placing a special emphasis on attracting staff from general and specialty contractors who are involved in workforce development. We are also making sure that AGC chapter staff involved in workforce development are in the room during the summit.

Key to the success of the summit, however, is making sure that we have professionals from the education community — high schools, community colleges, apprenticeship training programs and other institutions — that are preparing the industry’s future workers. Having these educators in the room is vital so they can get a better appreciation of the industry’s workforce needs, and for the construction community to understand what kind of support these educators need to be successful.

The inaugural National Construction Industry Workforce Summit will offer a unique opportunity to learn about successful workforce development efforts, network with contractors, association leaders and educators who are involved in workforce development and help develop new nationwide solutions to chronic construction labor shortages. That is why we are working hard to make sure we have a good, cross-representative range of members in the room. But since so much of the day is focused on having participants working together, we need to keep the size of the crowd relatively small and have capped attendance.

This industry doesn’t need another workforce gripe session. That is why our focus is on using this summit to share inspiring workforce success stories and crowd-sourcing solutions to the causes of these shortages. We will also be challenging each attendee to implement at least one of the solutions they learn about during the summit.

More broadly, our hope is that this summit will serve as the starting point for a greater level of coordination and consistency among the many construction workforce campaigns that are already in place. There is clearly an enormous amount of effort underway around the country. But the sum of those efforts does not exceed, or even equal, the many parts. We aim to change that, and this summit should help make that change happen.