Collaboration between industry partners is crucial if owners, contractors, regional labor organizations and associations want to mitigate the skilled labor shortage. Chris Affuso, Associate Director at Praxair, Inc. in Tonawanda, New York, and Co-Chairman of CURT’s Handoffs to Construction Committee, believes a group effort between all of these partners will help bring about meaningful change.
Affuso, who leads Praxair’s U.S. Engineering and Construction team’s proposal/project management group, is responsible for proposal development and delivery on new capital project opportunities, as well as the project management, project controls and materials management for ongoing projects. This position puts Affuso on the front lines of projects each and every day, and has given him a bird’s eye view of some of the most common problems plaguing construction sites in the United States.
In the past, one of the largest problems was workforce development. Those challenges have returned and the resulting shortage of skilled workers has put pressure on many construction sites in the booming Gulf Coast, and is expected to create issues elsewhere in the country (if it has not already) as construction continues to ramp up. While the Gulf Coast has been very active with efforts to attract, train and retain workers (read more here), this is not the case everywhere.
Figuring out a way to alleviate shortages is one reason why Affuso became involved with the Handoffs to Construction Committee; members of the team have identified human resources as one of the many categories of deliverables that are critical to the construction site.
Affuso says many of CURT’s members, Praxair included, are “working in regions of the U.S. that are experiencing major growth and expansion, which places high demand on skilled construction labor.”
As such, the Handoffs to Construction Committee has partnered with the Workforce Development Committee and industry to work together on this topic.
One such industry partner is the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA®), a trusted tool that can help owners, contractors and others in the industry plan ahead and anticipate skilled labor risk. Subscribers to this labor risk identification and planning tool can safely input their data for current, upcoming and future projects, and are then able to accurately learn what the workforce landscape looks like in the region where their project is being built, and during the time period it is planned for. Investing the time now, to input project data, can result in measurable savings later―both in terms of budget and schedule.
“Focusing on the specific skilled labor needs of an upcoming project and then tackling labor shortfalls in the project planning and execution is incredibly important,” says Affuso. “The CLMA® enables project analysts and planners to know, with a high degree of certainty, what labor issues to expect during a project.”
Being able to know and plan ahead is a major part of a new CURT initiative, Labor Shortage Risk Mitigation, which is all about the “early actions that owners and contractors can and should take in order to avoid negative impacts on a project (cost, schedule, quality, safety), as a result of regional skilled labor shortages,” says Affuso.
In the past, a lack of accurate supply and demand data, from specific locations, was an obstacle in taking early action. Now, with accurate data from tools like CLMA®, initiatives such as Labor Shortage Risk Mitigation will enable project planners to map out their labor needs before the ground breaks and throughout construction.
The CLMA® is designed to help owners, contractors, unions and other industry stakeholders dynamically understand the skilled labor market in a collaborative environment and more effectively know how to employ risk mitigation strategies.