The Michigan Construction Movement: Repairing A Broken Pipeline

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Let’s face it. We all have our own view of the construction industry. It is inescapable that which construction builds. All the things we rely on every second of every day. The houses we live in. The roads we travel on. The clean water we drink that magically drains away when dirty. The unimaginable connection we have to each other through our wireless networks. Electricity lighting our classrooms, courts and cathedrals. All of this is our built environment.

Building the workforce for Michigan’s construction industry requires a statewide targeted branding campaign that inspires employers to attract the next generation of tomorrow’s workers and uncover new workers today.

That effort must inspire the entire training, education and career exploration system to help develop the, skills, qualifications and character needed for a successful career anywhere in the construction industry.

The Michigan Construction movement offers that inspiration to all industry employers desperate for workers today and who know that their future workforce had better be well into the education/training pipeline for those projects of tomorrow. For some projects, it may be too late.

The Pipeline

Let’s look at the pipeline. No, not the water-main in the photo above being tested after a rupture repair in Los Angeles in 2014. Rather, the construction workforce development pipeline here in our state: the 899 public schools (of which 55 are career and technical education centers), 26 community colleges, 15 public universities, 15 private colleges or universities, and a host of non-profit and for-profit technical schools. There are construction associations offering specialized industry recognized certifications and general industry training.

New Regulations

Let’s not forget the brand new Skilled Trades Regulation Act 407 of 2016 just enacted in April 2017 changing the licensing structure for the three primary mechanical trades of electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) and for building inspectors and officials. This new law is in addition to the Occupation Code Act of 1980 in place for architects, engineers, and residential contractor licensing. All of these laws mandate specific paths to careers in those occupations in Michigan, including that each licensed individual have good moral character.

A Broken System

Put on top of this heap the pressure of union vs. non-union. Throw in the Great Recession shedding ten’s-of-thousands of workers from 2006 – 2010. Then swallow that all down with a big gulp of STEM mixed with ‘the only way to a better life than your parents is with a college degree’ and you can see how getting people through this pipeline leaves one thinking this system is broken.

The perception of construction does not help attract people to want to prepare themselves for a career in construction. For those education and training programs that survived the recession, enrollment is down across the board, most alarmingly in high-school career and technical education programs seeing a 20-percent decline in enrollment between the 2006-07 and 2015-16 school years.

As construction spending shows a steady increase in demand the supply of workers is cut-off.

The Movement

Seems like Michigan’s construction workforce development system is rather complicated as are solutions to fix it. Hey, what about that movement?

Just like a grain of cement used to build our roads, the Michigan Construction movement started with a blast! Michigan Construction offers three Pure Michigan® styled commercials to inspire us all:

  • The Road Begins shows a journey of construction materials to some of Michigan’s infrastructure and heavy construction projects.
  • The Road takes us closer to the world of construction through the eyes of child.
  • Gaming shows a group of tweens working together moving their skills from video games to construction.

Surely, these commercials are not the silver-bullet solution for the challenge of finding and creating those workers so badly needed in construction. However, the ten’s-of-millions of media impressions gathered in the first year of the Michigan Construction campaign have made an undeniable impact.

The Michigan Construction movement looks to rebuild the pipelines to the many pathways leading to careers in construction by connecting employers, educators, and other key stakeholders at local levels to build a better Michigan.

Let’s make more construction workers and help them find their own unique way to build a better Michigan.

Please let us know what you think. Give us a call at (844) 200-4838 or email to discuss your company’s workforce challenges. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or Linked In. Consider financial support for the Michigan Construction movement an become a Michigan Construction Employer Partner.

Join the Michigan Construction Movement

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