A Lesson in Agility

A Lesson in Agility

By Bruce G. Carter, P.E., President, Associated General Contractors of Indiana; Vice President, Weddle Brothers

The year 2020 has been a lesson in agility. As the pandemic frames a new economic reality for our communities, the critical need for workforce development and talent attraction is now even more apparent.

Before the pandemic, the construction industry was facing a shortage of talent. If we opt to focus on where we are now as this downturn plays out, our industry will suffer. Let’s capitalize on this pause and vocalize the need for good people to deliver this essential business. We must commit resources to attracting the best and the brightest to our industry now. We will need to rely on the new generation of construction talent in order to succeed.

A few years ago, our partners leading Indiana’s construction apprenticeship programs analyzed their admission data. Their workforce development gaps were not curriculum based – our contractors know they offer cutting edge training programs. The gap was in identifying the right candidate. To strengthen the gap, the construction apprenticeship programs came together to create a streamlined and modernized approach to industry recruitment in the state of Indiana.

In 2016, the apprenticeship programs launched The Indiana Careers in Construction Association (ICCA), a one-stop location for all 60 construction apprenticeship programs. In addition, the ICCA launched the “Built To Succeed” program.

“We recognized the need to modernize our recruitment approach if we were going to attract a new generation to the construction industry,” said Jim Patterson, board chair of the Indiana Careers in Construction Association. “Our apprenticeship programs created an initiative unique to the state of Indiana.”

This unique initiative offers an online Construction Common Application which allows prospects to apply to the industry without declaring which trade they want to join. Instead, prospects can express interest in the industry and explore a variety of trades in the same manner college students explore majors. In addition, the ICCA creates a dialogue with prospects exploring career options, but not quite ready to commit to the industry. By creating a modernized approach to recruitment similar to a traditional post-secondary institution, the ICCA is strengthening the talent pool for our industry.

In 2018, the AGC of Indiana proudly joined the ICCA has their platinum partner. Our contractors are committed to expanding our workforce in Indiana. By bolstering the ICCA’s outreach with additional funding, our association has built an important partnership with our apprenticeship programs. In addition, the initiative has developed an alliance with the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) that creates streamlined communication with guidance counselors, teachers and coaches so they are not hearing directly from 60 different programs.

The results can be found in the data. In 2019, the Indiana Careers in Construction Association reported a 90% increase in construction apprenticeship program applications over 2018.

Together, our associations are working to create opportunity for Hoosiers in the construction industry. Our commitment to a deep and diverse talent pool is the heart of this partnership. This month, the ICCA announced a pivotal milestone — the hiring of its first Director of Community Outreach. This position will work with apprenticeship programs and contractors to increase industry recruitment and to improve high school curriculum options to help students better prepare for a career in construction while still in high school.

At AGC of Indiana, our contractors rely on the talent and commitment of our workforce. We believe we are all responsible for attracting and training a new generation of tradesmen and women, field supervision, project managers and construction executives committed to building our communities.

This is not a time to pause and step back. It is our opportunity to move forward. The growth of our state and our industry depends on our success.

Category Features, Last Word