New ‘Build California’ Program Hopes To Grow Workforce

Future Workforce
Published On
Oct 17, 2019

Contractors are increasingly getting involved in workforce development initiatives aimed to attract more millennials and Gen Zers to the industry.

In California, an industry coalition is stepping up recruitment efforts with Build California, a new workforce development initiative, “created to inspire, engage, and activate the next generation of California’s construction workforce.”

“Rooted in research and focused on the future, Build California will reshape the perception of construction careers and cultivate a strong, steady workforce pipeline,” Peter Tateishi, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of California, said in a press release announcing the initiative.

The group, along with the AGC Construction Education Foundation and construction software vendors LCPtracker and Procore, last month launched Build California as part of an industry coalition that also includes contractors, public agencies, private owners, associations, unions, apprenticeship programs and other workforce development nonprofits.

First on tap: a one-year pilot program in three high schools, as well as the launch of an online education portal for teachers and administrators. If all goes well, the coalition will expand its outreach efforts to additional schools throughout the state.

“Our goal for the pilot year is to test our hypothesis and make sure Build California is engaging with our audiences—students, parents, teachers, jobseekers—in meaningful ways,” said Erin Volk, vice president, workforce and community development, and executive director of the AGC Construction Education Foundation.

“We are being intentional about how we engage and interact, especially with the students, knowing devices, social media platforms and all of their influencing factors change quickly in this digital world,” Volk said.

The last few years, there has been an increased effort across the country by trade organizations to promote construction work and guide young people to these careers. AGC state chapters have launched several workforce development initiatives in other states, including Go Build Alabama. Contractors are also involved in initiatives launched by state governments, including Build Virginia and Michigan’s Marshall Plan for Talent.

The need to improve recruitment is urgent, as 80% of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions, according to a survey released in August by Autodesk and the AGC.

“Workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer. “However, construction labor shortages are a challenge that can be fixed, and this association will continue to do everything in its power to make sure that happens.”

About the Author

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than three decades of experience writing about the construction industry, and her articles have been featured in the Associated General Contractor’s Constructor magazine, the American Fence Association’s Fencepost, the...

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