By Israel G. Torres, Managing Partner
As we wrap up the year at TCLG, I’ve been thinking about the connection between worker readiness, specifically in the construction industry, and the components of a strong economy that works for everyone. Recently, I sat down with Phoenix Business Journal Publisher Ray Schey, Kitchell Project Director Scott Root, and BeachFleischman PC Accounting and Assurance Shareholder Bryan Eto to discuss Arizona’s construction industry, mainly workforce development, and its impact on economic growth in Arizona.
Scott, Bryan and I agreed that a healthy construction industry depends on having a pool of highly skilled workers ready to build our cities and towns. During our discussion, we kept coming back to the central big question: How do we train the next generation of construction workers to address the immediate needs of the industry and the long-term needs of our region? Our answer: Potential training program partnerships between property owners, developers, contractors, community leaders, and labor could provide viable solutions to the ongoing skilled labor shortage.
I’m a firm believer in proven apprenticeship programs that have trained generations of skilled workers. These programs graduate students at rates higher than the average four-year university, with no debt. Apprentices not only learn from seasoned and skilled professionals at high-tech training centers, but they also work side-by-side with the men and women who are in the field every day. Nothing can replace the hands-on, real-world knowledge gained by being an apprentice on a job site. These programs also emphasize quality workmanship and job-site safety, contributing to creating safe and secure communities for residents and workers, and their families.
A healthy and trained workforce is the foundation of a strong economy. For generations, construction work has been a path to the middle class, especially for men and women who are attracted to careers that require skill, precision and innovation. These workers are in demand.
Let’s turn these lively conversations about workforce development into solid action plans that support quality training programs, provide opportunities for workers, and strengthen our economy.