On Thursday, November 12th, the Idaho AGC unveiled the Education Foundation's workforce development effort, WeBuildIdaho.org to the public. We were delighted to get the full support of Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter at the public unveiling, in addition to the support of the Department of Labor, Department of Professional Technical Education, and Idaho's post-secondary educational institutions, to name a few. The Idaho AGC was represented by Bob VonLintig of Western Construction and Outreach Director, Hailey Reyes. If you haven't read it elsewhere, you can also read the short op-ed piece by VonLintig addressing the need for WeBuildIdaho.org below.
It’s an industry we see in action every day and one we often take for granted. They build our office buildings and factories, our hospitals and schools, and the roads we drive on each and every day. The construction industry is alive and well in Idaho…for now. The problem isn’t demand, not by a long shot. While other states have seen a decline in their construction job markets, Idaho’s is booming. The Idaho Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project that Idaho will add 11,600 Construction Industry jobs by 2022. But who will fill those positions?
In a climate that increasingly emphasizes the importance of post-secondary education, Idaho isn’t alone in being behind the curve in developing its skilled trade workforce. In a recent survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, eighty-six percent (86%) of construction firms throughout the nation report difficulty finding qualified craft workers to fill key positions.
“Few firms across the country have been immune from growing labor shortages in the construction industry,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer for AGC of America. “The sad fact is too few students are being exposed to construction careers or provided with the basic skills needed to prepare for such a career path.”
In an effort to address this problem locally, the Idaho AGC’s Education Foundation, in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Labor and the Department of Professional Technical Education, has developed WeBuildIdaho.org, a tool for career counsellors and a springboard for anyone considering a career in the state’s booming construction industry. At WeBuildIdaho.org, Idahoans have a one-stop portal from which they can connect to all the information needed for launching a successful career in construction.
The site includes a Get Started page, where Idahoans can access regularly updated information on a wide range of construction-related career paths – including details on wages, working conditions, and job growth forecasts specific to each Idaho region. The Get Trained page connects Idahoans to training programs across the state and scholarship programs designed to fund their education. According to Idaho AGC CEO Wayne Hammon, “Nowhere else will you find all the construction-related programs available at Idaho’s post-secondary schools, trade unions, and other educational providers in a single location.”
“This kind of industry-driven initiative is exactly what’s needed to address our workforce needs,” Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “I’m especially impressed that this is a public-private partnership between construction contractors, State agencies and our education system that advances my K-through-Career goals for educating, training and preparing Idaho citizens.”
In addition to a Parents & Educators page full of resources and statistics, the site also hosts a Get Employed page: Idaho’s first job posting board dedicated solely to the construction industry, connecting those looking for work directly to the construction companies searching for new employees in Idaho.
The goal of this unique private-public partnership is to create an easy-to-use resource that can help bridge the gap between the growing demand for skilled workers in Idaho, and the reduced workforce pipeline. For revitalization, growth, and urbanization in Idaho continue, we have to create the workforce to sustain it.
We are hoping WeBuildIdaho.org can help.