ABC President and CEO Speaks on Boys and Girls Club of America Panel

On Wednesday, April 17, ABC President and CEO Michael Bellaman joined Carolyn Lee, executive director at The Manufacturing Institute; Karen Pittman, co-founder and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment; and Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, board chair and president of the Charles Schwab Foundation, for a Boys and Girls Club of America panel, Building a Diverse Talent Pipeline: The Policy and Business Case. 

Moderated by David Seaton, chairman and CEO of Fluor Corp., an ABC member company, the panel focused on why readying young people for life and the workforce is critical to the success of our future workforce, nation and economy. The panelists discussed how technology is changing day-to-day responsibilities in industries like manufacturing, the soft skills needed for youth to succeed professionally and, importantly, the many paths into today’s workforce that don’t require a four-year college degree.

“When we talk about the action in the K-12 arena, we need guidance counselors to talk about technical education with the same passion they talk about college degrees,” said Bellaman. He stressed that parents and teachers also need to encourage young people who show an interest in careers like welding to pursue that passion, noting that salaries for in-demand craft professionals can reach six figures. 

Bellaman also highlighted that the construction industry provides not just a job, but a well-paying career. As you don’t need a college degree, the barriers to entry are minimal, and the opportunity to grow, earn new credentials and move up through leadership with the “earn-while-you-learn” model is exceptional. 

ABC members invested $1.6 billion to educate their employees in 2018, up from $1.1 billion in 2013. The 45% increase in spending resulted in nearly twice as many course attendees—more than 980,000—receiving craft, leadership and safety education to advance their careers in commercial and industrial construction.