SoLē Mia in tED Magazine
The construction industry is facing a serious labor shortage, which has created more costs, time and hurdles for builders.
One way industry leaders are addressing this problem is by developing apprenticeship programs in various construction trades to foster a new talent pool. We had the opportunity to share with tED Magazine details on Oleta Partners’ apprenticeship program with CBT College and shared tips on how to launch one.
Former Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe may have said it best when he told a congressional panel that it’s time to “make work cool again” for career and technical education and the skilled trades, sharing his belief that a combination of factors have left many young people with a negative image about hands-on, blue-collar work. “You have to make (skilled trades work) aspirational,” he told the panel. “You have to change the image of the opportunity.”
To do his part in that mission, Rowe launched a nonprofit foundation (mikeroweWORKS) to challenge the idea that going to college for four years (and piling up substantial debt) is the only way to achieve career success, and his foundation channels scholarship funds to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. According to NHBR, the foundation has so far mobilized more than $3 million in education funds connecting students and trade schools.
“The shortage of skilled labor in key professions is an ongoing problem with far-reaching effects on our local and national economies,” NHBR reports. “Reframing the discussion, creating more training opportunities to help workers acquire in-demand skills, and expanding the availability of scholarship programs that support such efforts will be an important part of the solution.”
Skilled Trades Talent Drought
Finding and retaining new talent in a time of skilled trade labor shortage is no easy task, and electrical contractors and construction firms have been hit particularly hard. On one hand, the national construction project pipeline is brimming. On the other, the number of qualified employees that are ready, willing, and able to work in “dirty” jobs—and pass up the opportunity to get into technology, sales, and service careers—has decreased exponentially.
“North America is facing a skilled trades talent drought. In 2016 skilled trades positions were the hardest role for companies to fill for the seventh straight year,” according to Expert Insight. “With nearly 20% of current tradespeople older than 55 and only one new tradespersons entering the workforce for every five who retire, this labor challenge will only worsen over the coming years.”
Knowing this, the developers of a large, mixed-use construction project in South Florida is investing $2.5 million in a scholarship fund to send Miami residents to vocational programs. Working with management consulting firm Garth Solutions, Oleta Partners is working with an area trade college (CBT College) to administer the free construction training program—all with the goal of keeping the pipeline of new, skilled tradespeople as full as possible as it develops SoLe Mia in Miami.
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