Safety, Quality, Integrity

Worker Shortages Highlighted at 16th Annual CII Conference

Wed, September 20, 2017

Worker Shortages Highlighted at 16th Annual CII Conference

The Construction Industry Institute (CII) held its 16th Annual Conference in San Francisco on August 7-9, 2001, with more than 400 attendees. The primary focus of the conference was to heighten awareness of the critical worker shortage and the lackluster image of the industry itself. Keynote speakers and panelists discussed the growing worker shortage and the poor image of the industry.

Kent Underwood, Manager of Project Management for Solutia, Inc. and former chairman of The Business Roundtable's Construction Committee, told the audience that the owner’s stake in the worker shortage was high and that training was key to the solution. During his speech titled "The Owner’s Stake in Workforce Training" Underwood explained that those in the owner community have stood on the sidelines with the attitude that the work force is a contractor problem. The owners share the responsibility of insuring a viable workforce. The responsibilities cannot be shifted to the contractors like risk provisions in contracts or competently bidding a fixed price project. He warned that the impact of a tightening labor supply and declining skills is producing low quality construction; this will come to roost on the doorsteps of users who pay the bills. "It is not a matter of whether we want to pay the price for training, it’s a question of when and how much. Owner’s should do business only with contractors who are actively investing in training and maintaining the skills of their workers."

Frank Yancey, a long-time Kellogg, Brown & Root executive and now consultant for the firm, detailed what the average construction worker actually makes in today’s market. He said, "If low pay was a felony, I think most of us would be on death row," referring to the $17 an hour a journeyman laborer could earn. "In reality, that worker is left with $29 a week in disposable income. We do not have craftsmen, we do not have apprentices, we have poor people."

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