Innovative Workforce Solutions to Help Growing Construction Industry Address Hiring, Training, and Retention Challenges
In September 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor has announced a series of investments totaling more than $25 million to address the workforce needs of the construction industry. These investments result from forums which the U.S. Department of Labor hosted over the past year with construction industry leaders, educators, and the public workforce system to identify the industry's hiring, training, and retention challenges.
DOL has sought to understand and implement industry-identified strategies to confront critical workforce challenges. It has listened to employers, representatives from industry associations and labor-management organizations, and others associated with the construction industry regarding their efforts to identify challenges and implement effective workforce strategies. However, the challenges they face are far too complex for one institution or industry sector to solve alone. DOL's Employment and Training Administration is supporting comprehensive partnerships that include employers, labor-management organizations, the public workforce system, and other entities that have developed innovative approaches that address the workforce needs of business while also effectively helping workers find good jobs with good wages and promising career pathways in the construction industry.
This set of workforce solutions is based on the construction industry's priorities that address issues such as:
- expanding the pipeline of youth entering the construction industry;
- enhancing the capacity of secondary schools to prepare youth to enter post-secondary programs and employment in the construction industry;
- providing a career lattice approach to the recruitment, education, training, professional development, and job placement of construction workers;
- helping alternative labor pools, such as women, learn about career opportunities and gain skills needed in the construction industry;
- enhancing the capacity of community colleges and the public workforce system to help alternative labor pools enter the industry;
- developing accelerated training programs that help dislocated workers quickly enter the construction industry; and
- creating comprehensive partnerships that help entry-level workers enhance their skills and utilize apprenticeship and other training programs.
The grants are intended to provide genuine solutions, leadership, and models for partnerships that can be replicated in different parts of the country.
In addition to investing in comprehensive solutions that address the construction industry's pressing workforce challenges, the U.S. Department of Labor recently helped launch a national initiative to increase awareness of career opportunities in the skilled trades. Through "Skills to Build America's Future," the U.S. Department of Labor is working with the National Association of Home Builders, the National Heavy & Highway Alliance, and the Construction Industry Round Table to promote the skilled trades. The initiative utilizes a wide array of innovative strategies, from partnerships with schools to sponsorships with sports leagues to TV and radio ads. Like so many industries, the construction industry seeks an enhanced image, and the "Skills to Build America's Future" initiative is a strategic effort that will boost the profile of key occupations in construction.