Across the nation, the deficit of reliable, skilled and dependable workers is a growing concern
Construction is no stranger to this problem. According to a recent survey conducted by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America, 70 percent of construction firms report difficulty filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce.
In Orange County, California, construction companies struggle to manage employee turnover and retention. The Orange County Register reports that, “62 percent of California construction bosses polled said they were challenged to find hourly craftsmen, and 27 percent said they expected hiring headaches to increase.” Employers aren’t going to fill this void by doing business as usual; they need to partner with groups that are working to upskill our community’s future workforce.
Recognizing that a robust economy relies on a future labor force that is both growing and skilled, Adrian Foley, President & COO, Brookfield Residential, joined forces with Hope Builders—a local agency that connects under-skilled and unemployed youth to jobs in the construction industry—to help the organization grow its proven model. In late spring 2017, Hope Builders and Brookfield launched Hope Builders’ 100, a growing coalition of executives working to promote and scale viable solutions to Orange County’s skills gap.
“We have a responsibility to the community. Not only to those we build, but also to those in which our employees live. Brookfield wants all residents of Orange County to thrive,” said Foley. Foley and his team have asked other homebuilders to join Hope Builders’ 100 because he believes Hope Builders’ ability to recruit, vet and train workers is a vital benefit to their industry. “Our trade partners need crewmembers. We need our trade partners and these youth need jobs. It’s a natural partnership.”
In addition to Brookfield Residential, other Hope Builders’ 100 members include Lennar, RSI Communities, TL Fab and TRI Pointe Homes. Together, over the next five years, these leaders will leverage existing education, training and internship partnerships—such as the Building Industry Association of Southern California’s Trade Labor Shortage Subcommittee—to expand training and employment pathways into the building trades.
Recently, these partners advised Hope Builders’ launch of Jobs WORK—a new, ten-week “earn and learn” program that partners with the building trades to provide field training to youth looking for jobs in construction. This model builds on Hope Builders’ more than 20 years of experience to fast-track youth into quality jobs and help employers vet new employees. Jobs WORK leverages Hope Builders’ existing curriculum of core construction competencies, basic math remediation, life skills development, and OSHA Certification with existing training programs in the trades.
After 10 weeks of training, Hope Builders places youth with a trade partner for temporary employment assignments. Current Jobs WORK partners include: Hakes Sash and Door, Infinity Plumbing, Mammoth Electric, Residential Design Services, West Coast Drywall and Paint, and Woodbridge Glass/Werner Systems. At the end of the training program, the trades will have the option of transitioning trainees to permanent employment. Throughout the following six months, Hope Builders will continue to provide mentoring and case management to ensure that the youth remain employed. Ultimately, Jobs WORK will enable Hope Builders to scale its existing program and generate a pipeline of fully vetted, trained employees to the local workforce.
Currently, Hope Builders’ 100 includes 23 members. The group is working to recruit 50 by the end of June 2018 and 100 by the end of 2018. By 2022, Hope Builders’ 100 expects to move 1,000 youth into the workforce, upskilling minimum wage earners into skilled jobs and addressing the labor shortage in construction.
Christa Sheehan is Deputy Director at Taller San Jose Hope Builders. To learn more, please visit www.tsjhopebuilders.org.