In this case, the non-believers are those who don’t think there is a workforce shortage. And while Daniel has not experienced any project delay issues at Honda North America, Inc., he knows that continued energy expansion in the United States, poor historical recruiting efforts by the construction industry, and current unemployment trends speak to long-term, structural problems on the horizon.
Daniel is North American CAPEX/ IE Indirect Group Leader/ Category Manager, SPSM at Honda North America, Inc. He has seen the workforce data being presented by groups like the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) and says Honda is taking strategic steps to understand this topic within their organization, engage contractors on their awareness of this issue and strengthen supplier performance management initiatives.
Daniel says Honda is also pulling data out of the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA®) in order to develop category strategies for construction, as well as to help continue the dialog within company management regarding upcoming projects and potential risk(s) that exist.
One potential risk lies with suppliers. “We have seen that crafts are being stretched thin within our core suppliers,” comments Daniel. “This has forced us to increase spending with smaller and/or new suppliers to ensure our projects are properly staffed.”
Building partnerships with new suppliers as well as working together as an industry overall will benefit projects. “Whether you are an owner or contractor, we all have the same business objective and that is longevity,” says Daniel. “For this to happen, strong partnerships must exist between owners and contractors, and those partnerships must be supported en mass from both sides.”
Daniel suggests two ways to build trust between both sides. “First, treat your contractors as an extension of your organization. The more comfortable both parties are in the relationship, the more likely both will get what they want. The win-win scenario is the most sustainable model that we have seen and is inherent within our company DNA. This is why you see Honda producing so many industry innovations.”
Second, Daniel recommends identifying who your key suppliers are across the different trades and “have regular, on-going business discussions with them relative to workforce. Many of your contractors might not even be aware of these issues given how busy they are in just meeting the immediate demands.”
Meeting these demands may be feasible now but long-term may be a different story―especially if the perception of construction doesn’t change. “Many people still see this as an unsafe, dirty and unrewarding job done by people who elected not to go to college. That is just not the case,” says Daniel. “The industry needs to show people that they can have a career instead of a job and highlight just how the industry has changed. A lot of great advancements have been made in terms of wages, benefits, working conditions and technology. We need to let everyone know this.”
“Above all,” says Daniel, “We need to sell them on the concept that as workers in our industry they will get to ‘build’ something tangible and lasting; not only with their hands but their head as well.”
And you need to sell this concept early. “Recruitment timing is the other thing that needs to change. Getting to people once they have graduated from high school or a vocational school is just too late. Outreach has to be in the early high school years (freshman and sophomore), while teenagers are still trying to figure out what they want to do when they graduate.”
Building partnerships between owners and contractors, and building the image of the workforce should go a long way towards ensuring that should an ark ever be needed, your company will have the skilled laborers to build it!
The CLMA® is an online application designed to help owners, contractors, unions and other industry stakeholders dynamically understand the skilled labor market in a collaborative environment and know how to more effectively manage project labor risk.