On November 17th, the Houston Chapter of the American Subcontractors Association held its monthly membership luncheon at the HESS Club. The topic for the meeting was a panel discussion covering the Construction Career Collaborative (C3) initiative. Panelists were Peter R. Dawson, AIA, Senior Vice President, Facilities Services, Texas Children’s Hospital; Joe Savala, Associate Vice President, Facilities Administration, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Jim Stevenson, CEO, W.S. Bellows Construction Corporation; and Tom Vaughn, CEO, Vaughn Construction. I served as the panel moderator, leading the panel through a series of questions covering:
An overview of C3
- Attendees were directed to www.constructioncareercolloaborative.org for information about the initiative,
- and to the Construction Citizen website for more background on the workforce issue
The roles of the panelists in the initiative
- Tom Vaughn and Jim Stevenson began the C3 movement while serving as AGC Chair and Vice Chair in late 2009. Today Jim is the Task Force chair, as well as the AGC Houston Chairman. Both played significant early roles, and continue to function as high profile leaders in the C3 initiative.
The benefits of C3
- Attracting workers to construction earlier
- Better retention of workers by defining a career path
- Craft worker certification
- Safer, higher quality work, and more expeditious projects
Importance of owner participation
- Owner “demand” will drive compliance and consistency
- Owner specific requirements can be more easily integrated and certified
The biggest challenges facing C3
- Identifying every craft worker on the job site
- Eliminating worker misclassification
- Developing training standards and a training network
Why is C3 important now?
- Worker demand will be great as we expect to duplicate the built environment in the next few decades
- The current workforce will be retiring in great numbers in the near future
- Projects are getting increasingly complex and highly skilled workers are required
- Enhanced safety training
The possibilities of C3 improving the lifetime cost of a project
- Higher quality construction reduces long term maintenance costs
- Maintenance workers often come directly from the skilled trades, and increased competency is going to be required with advanced technology
What would you say to a room full of industry counterparts to convince them of the importance of C3?
- Our industry will lose a significant portion of its skilled workforce and leadership in the next 10 years. C3 will directly impact this issue.
- Over the last 3 decades we have allowed negative wage growth and a skill decline to devalue the construction workforce and destroy viable career options. It’s time to fix that.
- Buildings are getting more and more complex and the workforce must be able to meet the needs of owners/users.
There were approximately 90 people in attendance, who participated in a very interactive question and answer period following the panel discussion.