There are limitless opportunities to build the American workforce through government-defined and industry workforce development programs. Innovative and unique platforms can provide the way for all Americans to develop skills to achieve their dreams.
However, with an aging workforce and an insufficient pipeline of new workers, the construction industry faces a critical shortage of skilled craft professionals. According to economic data, approximately 500,000 construction jobs are ready to be filled right now, and that number will increase with economic growth and forthcoming federal infrastructure legislation.
ABC and its 69 chapters are doing their part to educate and re-educate craft and management professionals using innovative and flexible learning models like just-in-time task education, competency-based progression, work-based learning and government registered apprenticeships to build a safe, skilled and productive workforce. According to a 2019 ABC Workforce Development Survey, 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.
- Policy that reflects an “all of the above” approach to workforce development where workers and employers have the freedom to choose the best way to provide value and build America.
- Continued modernization of the federal apprenticeship law known as the Fitzgerald Act of 1937, which was enacted at a time when labor unions dominated the construction market. As a result, federal and state laws and regulations tend to favor the union style of apprenticeship programs and do not accurately reflect industry-driven programs.
- Career and technical education programs that provide motivated students interested in learning a trade with a course of study that combines hands-on craft education in a real-world environment with core academics and classroom learning.
- More flexible options that allow students to use federal tuition assistance for employer-driven education and development that results in industry-recognized and nationally portable credentials.
- Inconsistent government actions that conflict with the goal of expanding workforce development opportunities for all Americans by denying their right to choose to learn and work in the merit shop sector of the construction industry.
At ABC, we believe in building people through the merit shop philosophy: that projects and personal advancement should be awarded based on performance, skill and achievement. Our flexible and affordable craft and safety programs lead to industry-recognized, national credentials for today’s leading construction positions. Together, we help individuals learn, transform and triumph as they pursue meaningful careers that advance their potential and build strong communities.
Employing a construction workforce that is safe, skilled and productive means that ABC member companies take an “all-of-the-above” approach to developing employees by using a number of flexible, competency-based and market-driven development methodologies to build their workforce and deliver value to their clients. Since fighting to get our first Registered Apprenticeship program approved in the 1960s, to developing the “Wheels of Learning” craft training curricula in the 1980s, to the founding of NCCER in the 1990s, ABC has been the gold standard for education and skills development in the merit shop construction industry.
ABC works closely with NCCER, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education foundation created in 1996 as The National Center for Construction Education and Research. Founded by ABC and leading contractors, NCCER is the industry’s leading source for craft training, assessment and certification. This ongoing, multi-million-dollar investment in training illustrates the industry’s commitment to developing the future workforce. Today, NCCER develops standardized curricula and industry-recognized, portable credentials for more than 70 crafts that have been used in all 50 states and in 20 countries.
Developing skills for all career pathways in the construction industry is vital to America’s growth and prosperity. ABC will continue to work to ensure construction companies’ workforce development needs are addressed.
ABC Chapter and Member-Specific Data:
- ABC contractor members spent $1.6 billion to educate their employees in 2018, which resulted in more than 980,000 course attendees receiving craft, leadership and safety education to advance their careers in commercial and industrial construction.
- ABC member contractors invest an average of $117,679, or 8.3% of payroll, on workforce development and education annually.
- ABC member contractors provided safety education to nearly 600,000 course attendees in 2018.
- Women in craft professional roles increased from 3% of the workforce to 12% between 2013 and 2018.
- Safety education accounted for the greatest share of spending at 48%, or $1,306 per employee, in 2018.
- The use of online construction education doubled from less than 10% in 2013 to more than 20% in 2018.
- The number of ABC member company employees enrolled in U.S. Department of Labor-registered and industry-recognized apprenticeship programs has doubled since 2013.
- On average, ABC member construction firms invest in trade/craft education for 122 employees per year at a per-person cost of $2,377.
- 85% of ABC member contractors use on-the-job training as part of their workforce development program for trade/craft employees.