ABC_ConnectionMap_175x125Dan Belcher, Director of Workforce Development for NCCER There is a high price paid in productivity, opportunity and prosperity when organizations can’t find workers to fill critical jobs. With a growing shortage of skilled craft professionals comes increased budgets and extended schedules. The greatest problem in filling these positions is finding qualified workers with both technical and interpersonal skills to meet the needs of today’s job market. According to Manpower Group, a lack of available applicants is the most common reason why employers have difficulty filling jobs, and more than a third of employers acknowledge that this is a high-priority problem. In fact, for the fourth consecutive year, the skilled crafts have been the hardest jobs to fill globally. Growing industries such as manufacturing, construction and healthcare are facing the most significant skills shortages. Part of the reason for the skills gap is society’s view of craft professions. Coached by parents, teachers and other adult authorities to seek the perceived security of a four-year degree, our younger generation lacks skills and understanding of craft training. Each year, NCCER’s recruitment and image enhancement initiative, Build Your Future (BYF), declares October as Careers in Construction Month to show young people the value in construction careers. Throughout the month, industry and education partner locally to host career events that introduce students to rewarding construction careers. This year, NCCER and BYF created the “I BUILT THIS” video contest to give aspiring craft professionals and their instructors an opportunity to showcase their construction projects. The contest is open through October 18 to students and instructors in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs. Another way in which industry and education have joined forces to close the skills gap is through NCCER’s Construction Career Pathways initiative. Construction Career Pathways connects industry and education to provide students with careers by highlighting best practices and providing practical resources to help educate and drive collaboration. Through this collaboration, CTE programs continually deliver industry-relevant construction craft training while providing students with job opportunities when they graduate. CTE students also receive comprehensive skill training that is in demand by today’s employers, such as technical skills, academic skills and employability skills, and they understand how these skills transfer directly to the real world. The skills gap remains a very real threat to the productivity, opportunity and prosperity of our industry. Through the collaboration of organizations like NCCER, BYF, SkillsUSA and ACTE, the construction industry is prepared to face these challenges. We must continue to introduce young people to the opportunities of valuable, rewarding and well-compensated employment in the crafts. It is up to all of us to make sure that these opportunities are promoted, so we can create a sustainable pipeline of craft professionals for generations to come.   pathways_banner_2015-01This year’s Construction Career Pathways Conference will be held on Nov. 19, 2015 in New Orleans prior to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) VISION conference. For more information or to register for the event, please visit

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.