Helping Texas Contractors Recruit the Next Generation of Workers

Written by  STEPHEN E. SANDHERR

construction site

Time and again, an overwhelming majority of our members tell us that one of their top concerns is the growing shortage of qualified workers to hire. After years of essentially dismantling what was once a vibrant vocational education system in most public school districts in the country, we no longer have a robust pipeline for recruiting and preparing new workers. What is worse is too many people view construction as a job of last resort instead of a high-paying and rewarding career opportunity.

In few parts of the country are the construction workforce shortages as acute as they are in Texas. As a state that fared better during the economic downturn and grew faster than most others during the recovery, the pool of available workers is a lot smaller here. To compound the problem, groups like the Workers Defense Project have wrongly vilified the broader construction industry to justify their aggressive fundraising and regulatory agenda. There is no telling how many students have been turned away from pursuing construction careers in Texas by the project’s many misrepresentations of the industry’s safety performance in Texas.

As we learned a long time ago, nobody is going to tell our own story for us except ourselves. That is why the Associated General Contractors of America teamed up with the AGC of Texas and our respective local Texas building chapters to launch a new campaign in January designed to raise interest in construction careers in the state. The new campaign, called “Texas Builds,” relies on testimonials from dozens of construction workers throughout Texas to highlight the industry’s commitment to safety and the many career opportunities that exist in the sector.

As part of the campaign, AGC produced a series of videos which showcase to thousands of Texans the men and women who work in construction across Texas and their tremendous pride in the work they do. The videos give the state’s construction workers a platform to explain the benefits of working in an industry that pays better than most, and is improving in safety standards faster than most other states.

Creating a series of high quality videos is one thing, making sure as many people as possible see them is just as important. That is why we built a new website for the campaign that features the four separate videos we prepared, as well as a range of data and information about construction pay, safety performance, and career opportunities in the state.

We also pooled our resources with the AGC of Texas and our other chapters to invest in a robust, monthlong targeted digital advertising campaign. That effort targeted specific locations, such as Texas legislative office buildings and Austin City Hall, as well as key groups, like politically active donors who are sympathetic to labor issues, and bombarded those locations and groups with a series of ads designed to drive viewers back to the new Texas Builds website and videos.

The campaign worked, and in just four weeks we were able to drive over 20,000 people to the Texas Builds site, build a robust list of industry supporters, and help educate reporters about the true safety facts regarding the state’s construction industry. We also provided our chapters and construction firms with a powerful new set of tools to help them make the case for working in high-paying construction jobs throughout the state.

This was a truly collaborative effort involving the time, energy, and participation of all our chapters, and dozens of member firms and their employees. But in the end, it is a sign of what we can do as an industry when we work together to overcome difficult challenges. I invite you to learn more, please, by visiting www.AGC.org/TexasBuilds



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