July 19, 2017

Will an Increase in Apprenticeships Help the Labor Shortage?

by Guest Blogger

Some interesting news out of Washington last month, with a potential impact on the building and construction industry: President Trump signed an executive order to increase apprenticeship funding to $200 million, granting the private sector more influence in designing those programs.

Per Construction Dive:

The Associated Builders and Contractors lauded the announcement Thursday and said the measures outlined in the executive order would help the construction industry with skills training and help eliminate a 500,000-worker shortage. 

One controversial aspect of the executive order is the fact that Trump does not require apprenticeship programs to be registered with the DOL, which currently sets program parameters and certifies them to make sure they're in compliance and provide quality training and education. Oversight of unregistered programs, critics say, could result in some sham offerings.

In an industry where 73% of construction companies anticipate having difficulty hiring the right people this year, any initiative that may help overcome that difficulty is greeted as welcome news.

What’s the impact? We certainly don’t know yet, but there could be some promise here. I recently wrote in a blog post for US Glass magazine about how we, as an industry, need to be making an investment in the employee of the future. Opportunities for an increased amount of apprenticeships in our industry may open a new avenue for us to accomplish that.

To the point that the executive order would grant more leeway to private businesses in establishing these programs, building and construction professionals must make sure to design these programs robustly, setting up apprentices for success.

It’s worth keeping our eyes on this development. And in the meantime, we can’t be resting on our laurels. Fenestration professionals must stay proactive in fostering the skills necessary to do the work that drives our business forward. One doesn’t become a skilled worker by accident. It takes training, it takes patience, and it takes investment—and it’s a two-way street between employee and employer. If we’re going to overcome a labor shortage, companies need to be sure we’re doing our part.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at Joe.Erb@Quanex.com

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