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The Construction Worker, an Endangered Species?

June 1, 2018

The Construction Worker, an Endangered Species?

One of the best perks of being a grandparent is a trip to the Zoo. We sure have a great one here to enjoy. On my last trip, exhibits were being remodeled and Zoo staff had some humorous signage up surrounding the construction area. It made me think about how dire our situation currently is with labor staffing in the industry. A residential inspector turned in his notice just this morning to pursue a private opportunity. How is our industry going to recruit, train, and retain the next generation of construction professionals? Here are my thoughts:

  1. A Change of Mindset: Too often I hear people say something like “He just isn’t cut out for college, so I told him to go into a trade.” We need to change the narrative through our everyday conversations so we hear more “He is a super smart kid with goals to own a plumbing business, so he got into an apprenticeship while still in high school.”

  2. Support Existing Programs: Locally there are several options including Anthis Career and IVY Tech for true hands on learning. I also know of the apprentice opportunities with local contractors that pay while you learn. The building department is sponsoring a paid intern position this year and has agreements in place with IVY Tech to recognize classroom hours as also counting towards requirements for respective journeyman licensure. This allows properly trained workers to get qualified faster to fill much needed positions.

  3. Healthcare Reforms: This one hits home to me personally. My son is a carpenter and worries about the high cost of health insurance in the private sector being prohibitive to starting a family. Something needs to happen nationally so healthcare is adequate and affordable for the employer and employee. While I am not a supporter of national healthcare, it sure seemed easier and less expensive to be seen by the family doctor a generation ago. I firmly believe that we would see more young people choosing our industry when benefits more closely match other professions.

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Let’s continue to promote our industry so we are no longer on the “Endangered Species” list.

Other Happenings: We did not forget about your license renewal. If you are still waiting on your 2018 license, we continue to process these and hope to be done in the next 30 days. A suggestion to renew every other year based upon the qualifier’s last name is being considered. We are working on that solution right now. Training is also being provided to all the inspectors on some concrete, basic framing, and sign inspections. I am trying to save time and fuel costs by having inspectors be able to perform some simple inspections on top of their normal inspections. I will have a more detailed list next month.

Sincerely,

John Caywood
Building Commissioner

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