This article was originally provided as a news release from the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation and is reprinted with permission.
ICRF-300Leaders from throughout Indiana's construction industry have united to focus on diversity in the industry's workforce efforts through the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation (ICRF). Originally formed out of the Indiana Construction Roundtable (ICR), which is a commercial construction association, the ICRF has now formally brought together union and non-union companies who work in commercial, residential, and road construction markets. Diversity is a central focus of this collaborative effort. Rick Wajda, CEO of the Indiana Builders Association, when asked about this effort, stated, "to best serve our communities, all segments of the construction industry must come together for a cooperative effort. By putting aside our differences and shifting the focus to helping people in need, we will raise the tide to meet the needs of all construction employers, regardless of a business' specialization." “Construction can provide not just a job, but a good living – and an even better life – for Hoosiers across all demographics,” said Richard Hedgecock, President of Indiana Constructors, Inc. According to Hoosiers by the Numbers, in the fourth quarter of 2017 there were over 8,000 job openings posted in construction, major maintenance and related fields in the greater Indianapolis region. These openings paid an average of $23.40 / hour, plus paid benefits. "This is a small portion of the total number of open opportunities across the state of Indiana in construction and more open up every day," said Mike Thibideau, Executive Director of the Indiana Construction Roundtable, "In every survey conducted of our members and members of partnering organizations, workforce development is nearly unanimously the top concern of the construction business community." According to Construction Labor Market Analyzer (CLMA), the average construction worker in Indiana is 49 years old. Leaders from throughout the state's industry cite a lack of diversity as a top concern for the industry's future. "Historically, the construction industry has largely relied on referrals from their most skilled workers to identify new hires," says Chris Price, President of the ICRF, "If John is a good electrician, and John recommends Zach, then Zach will probably be a good worker too. Until now, this strategy has been working. Industry has been able to meet the need of construction consumers, but this strategy has perpetuated the lack of diversity within industry." Price, through his work with the ICR Foundation, originally brought together all of the above named construction segments to focus on student outreach through Build Your Future Indiana. He sees this youth outreach as an essential component to addressing the future needs of industry, but sees more change as being necessary to make change today, and help individuals throughout the state find opportunity in construction. "The construction industry is trending backwards on diversity," says Price, "according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 1983, when the first federal legislation was enacted for minority business enterprises (MBE), African-Americans accounted for 6.6% of the construction workforce. As an industry, we are currently comprised of 2.6% women and 5.8% African-Americans. While diversity spending is helping to develop a network of qualified entrepreneurs, additional actions must be taken to reverse this downward trend in our workforce." Starting in May, the ICR Foundation will begin publicly marketing plans for a training model that will add focus to the challenge of diversity. This is a one month program, built with the intention of providing individuals with the skills and confidence to begin a career in construction. Built around national industry accredited courses and credentials, PullQuote-opportunityparticipants in the program will have exposure to soft skills training paired with education on hand tools, power tools, construction mathematics, blueprint reading, basic rigging and construction safety. The training will be offered at no cost to the student, and at the end of the program graduates will be connected directly to companies. Price, when speaking about the program, stated, "with minimal outreach to nine regional construction firms, the Foundation has already identified 844 entry level jobs that need to be filled, at an average starting wage of $20.30/hour plus benefits. Never has there been a better time to bring about change. We have an opportunity and obligation to change the course of our industry, for the good of people in our communities."

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  1. Connell Linson | May 15, 2018

    One way to insure "real" diversity is to recognize. promote and support women, minorities and others currently doing excellent jobs in the positions of leadership they currently hold.

    NCCER has a great COO in Katrina Kersh.  I think she would be excellent in the top spot when Don leaves.

    I have worked with and follow her career for more than a decade and I don't know any more capable, committed, passionate and qualified.

    The "old boys" need to take a deep breath and show some insight and courage..... I know it is the right thing to do.

    I just hired and 80 year old woman because she is so good.

     

       

  2. Christopher Price | May 03, 2018

    Sergio - thanks for your comment. As an industry, we must recognize and reconcile these barriers. Nobody should have to experience this. Now is the time for real change to occur!

    Chris Price, ICR Foundation President

  3. Sergio L Servin | May 03, 2018
    diversity.... as a Hispanic young man I feel this heavy load on my back stopping me to become a welder here in central florida. every job interview there's this big white rough neck looking up and down at me. I stand there and not able to finish telling him half of my experience before he decides to show me the way out. I try not to think like this, its negative I tell my kids how it is and they know it hurts....I just pray that they dont have to deal with it when their time comes to join the workforce 

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    About NCCER

    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.