By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President
In a recent PHCC Contractor Sentiment survey, one of the biggest challenges cited by our members is the inability to find employees. While a problem for several years – this is a crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. “In a study performed by Marcum’s National Construction Services group: 41% of pre-pandemic respondents chose ‘securing skilled labor’ as the No. 1 threat to their businesses.” (Retrieved from the World Wide Web on May 10, 2021, here), which is now contributing to project backlogs post- COVID-19.
There are multiple national efforts to address workforce development. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is “designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans… into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.” (Retrieved from the World Wide Web on May 10, 2021, here), The White House’s American Jobs Plan is an effort to address infrastructure needs while creating “millions of good jobs” and “invest[ing] $100 billion in proven workforce development programs targeted at underserved groups and getting our students on paths to careers before they graduate from high school.” (Retrieved from the World Wide Web on May 10, 2021, here) and the National Apprenticeship Act (H.R.447) that seeks to expand the national apprenticeship system. PHCC contractors and chapters can also leverage assistance that is already provided by the here (NAWB).
According to its 2017 Annual Report, NAWB “represents over 500 business-led Workforce Development Boards and 12,000 business and public sector volunteers who serve on those boards. NAWB represents 40 states, two territories, and helped state and local workforce boards leverage over $4 billion in annual federal funding to support local and regional workforce training initiatives. Its members provided assistance to more than 13 million people in 2015, placing 7.8 million people in jobs.” Despite this resource, many of our members are unaware of the existence of local workforce boards as a source of candidates. Local workforce boards place candidates into jobs by identifying candidates for apprenticeships and provide federal funding to place and train candidates. P-h-c contractors can access local workforce boards for candidate placement options who come with funding for training already approved. Local and state PHCC chapters that offer apprenticeship programs can apply to become eligible training providers. They can promote and facilitate the connection between their contractors and local workforce boards. Attached is a list of local workforce boards within PHCC localities.
PHCC contractors should seek out all the resources they can find to combat this national crisis of too few skilled workers within our industry over the next half-decade and beyond. Partnering with local PHCC Chapters and the NAWB might be a great opportunity to explore.