Andy McNeil knows a thing or two about workforce development. As co-chairman of CURT’s Workforce Development and Industrial Relations Committee, he attends most committee meetings and regularly hears firsthand the effect skilled labor shortages are having on projects, especially from his southern colleagues.
McNeil, who is Executive of New Generation with NV Energy, works mostly in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. He attends industry meetings like those hosted by CURT, which gives McNeil insight into what proactive members of the construction industry in the booming Gulf Coast area are doing to enhance construction’s image and attract new workers. This includes the Go Build initiative, which began in Alabama and is currently expanding to Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, Ohio and Florida; and the Build Your Future initiative, which is active in schools around the United States.
He says that many construction executives in the West are not yet thinking about workforce shortages; but they should be. “Much of the West is not yet being impacted by shortages,” explains McNeil. “In fact, in 2008 Nevada had around 124,000 craft workers and as of March 2014, the state only had 61,000. Las Vegas was hit extremely hard hit by the recession but projects are starting again.”
For McNeil, rumblings of more work in Nevada are reason enough to start thinking about long-term workforce development plans. “We need to start thinking about workforce shortages like are being experienced in the South. We need to be proactive because it takes time to train workers; especially if we need to get them from the point of being an apprentice to a skilled trade worker. If we wait until there is a major need for those workers, we will have waited too long. It will be too late.”
This is why owners need to pay attention, McNeil explains. “Owners need projects completed on time and on budget, and labor shortages directly impact both of these elements. If a project takes longer than planned, because of a lack of workers, that flows right back to the owner.”
Knowing what to expect and planning accordingly is the key to offsetting these cost overruns and time delays. McNeil sees the Construction Labor Market Analyzer® (CLMA®) as a trusted tool to help plan ahead and anticipate skilled labor risk. McNeil has been involved with CURT since 2007 and has attended many meetings, workshops and conferences over the years.
This is how he first became aware of the CLMA®. “I was really impressed with the upgrades made in 2012, and I am looking forward to the enhancements that are being launched in 2014. It can be an important program for both owners and contractors.”
McNeil is watching what’s happening in the Gulf Coast area with interest and is tracking how the work shortage pans out in the CLMA®. “Candidly, it is nice to not be on the front lines at the moment and watch how other regions are adapting to the changing workforce issues. They’re doing a really good job and they’re focusing on the right things to make sure that both construction companies and owners are prepared. I really hope the rest of us take note.”
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.