Reprinted from ForConstructionPros.com

As prices for materials, equipment, labor and shipping continue to increase due to unprecedented inflation in the United States as well as various supply chain crises, both nonresidential and residential construction timelines continue to lengthen. In general, a universal truth when analyzing a labor shortage: productivity declines when the labor supply is tight. In short, projects are more expensive and taking way longer than they should to complete.

“Construction employment has stalled in many states, even though contractors have plenty of projects needing more employees, due to a dearth of qualified workers,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), regarding an analysis of federal employment data the AGC released in late July 2022. “Only half the states had an increase in construction employment last month.”

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In this recurring Bridging the Gap series, experts have covered simulators to help new employees get to know their future jobs better, the concept of investing in training new and current employees and the idea of spinning construction as a technology job for Gen Z workers. This column touched on automation of subcontractor roles, such as scheduling, payments and documentation. It has touted the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) as an excellent opportunity for job building in the United States. It’s also given out practical tips for outreach to potential employees—from offering part-time work to retirees to old-school paper job postings at local haunts.

What it has not touched on as much is revolutionizing a work culture through destigmatizing the preconceived notion of construction as a dirty, undesirable or dead-end job. This month, here are some back-to-basics tips for changing the oft-negative conversation around construction as a career into a positive dialogue:

Say this: “This is an active and rewarding job. You can be outside and work while being physically active, while still getting the intellectual stimulation of analyzing jobsites, problem solving on the fly and being detail oriented.”

Not: “This is a hard job, and you’ll need to be comfortable with grime, dirt and possible injuries.”

The world needs buildings and roads for infrastructure, as well as multi-family residential buildings to solve a nationwide housing crisis and affordability problem. Construction workers are vital to that progress. What’s more, many people in the U.S. workforce are not meant to sit at a computer, hammer-typing out thousands of chats or emails daily; their skills are better suited to hands-on work and building, whether fine-tuning jobsite plans or running high-tech equipment. The physical satisfaction of these opportunities is what construction hiring managers should tout.

Say this: “You’ll get to know and operate incredible equipment, and increased technology has made these machines comfortable, efficient and much safer.”

Not: “Anyone can be an operator.”

While it may be true that most inexperienced new employees can be trained to become excellent operators, the emphasis during the interview and onboarding process should be on the career opportunity and workplace environment. New employees will be paid somewhere between 3.4 to 4.17% more than employees hired before 2022, according to the latest Contractor Compensation Quarterly (CCQ) published by PAS, Inc., as reported by more than 340 companies in the 40th edition of the Construction / Construction Management Staff Salary Survey. These higher-paid employees are eager for increased autonomy, work-life balance, and a safe, comfortable, positive work environment, according to a March 2022 McKinsey report, “Bridging the Labor Mismatch in U.S. Construction.” The implication that they are expendable or disposable as employees will not work in hiring managers’ favors. A hiring manager should aim to seek employees who fit well within the workplace culture, rather than simply a warm body to run equipment.

Say this: “Training for a construction career can be an excellent alternative to traditional four-year college or university. And it can be like a tech job on certain jobsites, due to the automation of high-level machines.”

Not: “If you don’t have a degree, you might as well get a job in construction and make some money.”

Making a living wage is important, but upward mobility and feeling valued at a company matter to most people. Rather than phrase recruitment advertising with an “oh well” tone that indicates HR believes construction is a dead-end job, focus on the benefits, both intellectual and monetary. The lack of student loan debt alone can place young construction workers far ahead of their Gen Z peers financially. Additionally, those higher-paying jobs, with more disposable income available sans student loan debt, are also safer and more engaging than in the past. The increased automation and machine control of higher-tech equipment, from 3D guidance to automated dozers to cold-framed steel (CFS) automations and prefabricated options, allow new employees to learn both the technology and the trade, resulting in an ultimately more robust, educated workforce.

Say this: “If you like statistics, estimating is a great way to break into the construction industry.”

Not: “There aren’t opportunities in construction for people who don’t want to work on jobsites.”

There are ample opportunities for those interested in the administrative, accounting and other office-based tasks of construction, too.

Say this: “The U.S. government is actively working with construction associations and companies to provide pathways into the construction industry for women, people of color and immigrants.”

Not: “You might feel left out in this industry.”

Currently, 88 percent of the construction sector’s workforce is white and 89% is male, according to the March 2022 McKinsey report, “Bridging the labor mismatch in U.S. construction.” Attracting more diverse talent as quickly as possible is imperative, and employers should consider working with nontraditional sources of talent, according to McKinsey, like veteran-transition programs, formerly incarcerated individuals and immigrants.

AGC officials recently called on the U.S. government to allow employers to sponsor more foreign-born workers and support increased career and technical education to broaden options for workers to hone construction skills. Similarly, the federal government’s IIJA should spur training partnerships within the recently announced Talent Pipeline Challenge, which the White House aims to use to build pathways to quality jobs for women, people of color and underserved workers—including those from rural and tribal communities and people who live in consistent poverty. Christopher Herbert, the managing director for Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, told the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means committee at its July 13 hearing that the construction industry talent pool must expand to include more women and immigrants. In 2021, approximately 25% of all U.S.-based construction workers were immigrants, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. Immigration reform, Herbert said, would be a way to amp up the supply of workers available for builders to hire and speed up the currently way-overdue construction timelines in the United States.

The opportunities for nontraditional employees are growing at an exponential rate, creating the potential for a much more diverse construction sector workforce than ever before. Recruiters and employers now need to ensure their recruitment communications, interview and hiring techniques, and onboarding processes are fully articulated and as inclusive as possible, as they make these new, much-needed hires.

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Reprinted from WWLP.com

BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)– MBTA electrification and safety reporting requirements feature as the most prominent parts of an infrastructure bond bill Gov. Charlie Baker wants to change with an amendment he returned to the Legislature.

Baker approved all of the bond authorizations in the nearly $11.4 billion bill (H 5151) he signed Wednesday, including $400 million for immediate safety improvements at the T and $275 million as a down payment toward a western Massachusetts passenger rail expansion, and several of the outside sections packed into the major legislation.

He struck language from a few line items, vetoed four outside sections and sent back five proposed amendments, many focused on additional guardrails lawmakers sought to impose around the MBTA amid upheaval at the agency.

One of Baker’s amendments would rework a section of the bill in which lawmakers called on the T to outline short-, medium- and long-term plans to transform the commuter rail system.

Instead of working to roll out “electric locomotive” service or pursue “electrification” on several lines in the near future, the MBTA would instead be ordered to implement “battery electric locomotive” service and “battery electrification” under Baker’s amendment.

“I support this planning to make the commuter rail system more productive, equitable and decarbonized,” Baker wrote in his amendment letter. “I am proposing changes to ensure the plans incorporate the most up to date technology.”

The original bill also called for “no agreement to purchase commuter rail trains” to involve diesel locomotives after Dec. 31, 2030. Baker’s amendment dropped that requirement.

Two other amendments Baker returned would also reshape mandates on the MBTA linked to the ongoing, intertwined safety and staffing crises.

Lawmakers added language to the bond bill requiring the T to file a monthly report with the state inspector general listing all recent “incidents, accidents, casualties and hazards” across the transit system. The MBTA would also need to make that information available publicly.

Supporters said the bolstered reporting requirements would address the Transportation Committee’s early findings as the panel probes failures at the T and as the Federal Transit Administration continues a nearly unprecedented safety investigation.

“There will be more as the committee continues, but as a result of the oversight process initiated by the speaker and Senate president, there are important changes in this bill already and no doubt there will be more,” Transportation Committee Co-chair Rep. William Straus said last month.

Under Baker’s amendment, the MBTA would instead be ordered to file a monthly “safety data analysis report” that “contains safety performance indicators for bus, heavy rail and light rail.” He said that would “streamline” the requirement and “align” it with information the T already needs to submit to the Department of Public Utilities, the FTA, the MBTA’s board of directors, the National Transit Database and the inspector general.

“This change will allow for consistent and comprehensive safety data analysis in a single report,” he said.

Baker also moved to change a section of the bill requiring the MBTA to submit regular reports with the Legislature summarizing its unfilled job positions, recent hires and how long new workers will need to be trained.

The bill called for those reports to be filed “not more than 1 week after the effective date of this act and monthly thereafter.” Baker’s amendment would narrow their scope slightly, focusing only on openings and recent hires without the training element, and would call for their submission “not more than 1 month after the effective date of this act and monthly thereafter.”

Staffing shortages at the MBTA have strained both service and safety, leading to trip frequency cuts and drawing warnings from federal investigators that a stretched-too-thin workforce puts riders and employees at risk.

Another Baker amendment would expand a proposed mobility pricing commission, which lawmakers tasked with studying and making recommendations on measures such as congestion pricing and public transit fares, by eight members.

The new seats would be filled by representatives of AAA, Construction Industries of Massachusetts, American Council of Engineering Companies, Trucking Association of Massachusetts, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association and the hospitality industry.

With his veto pen, Baker slashed sections of the bill requiring the MBTA to provide “adequate parking alternatives” when it demolishes or reconstructs a parking lot or garage based on 2019 ridership levels and exempting car-sharing organizations from a rental vehicle surcharge.

The bill aims to maximize the impact of a new federal infrastructure law, which will steer billions of dollars to Massachusetts in the coming years and make more available via competitive grants, while upgrading transportation resources across the state and accelerating the transition toward electric vehicles.

It features $2.8 billion for projects on the interstate and non-interstate federal highway system, $1.375 billion for transit and rail improvements, $1.27 billion for non-federally aided road and bridge projects and tens of millions of dollars more for multimodal transportation planning, regional transit network improvements and Complete Streets funding for municipalities.

“MassTRAC will invest $11.4 billion in the Commonwealth’s roads, bridges and environmental infrastructure through proven, existing programs, including Complete Streets and the Municipal Small Bridge program,” Baker said in a statement Wednesday. “The bill will also advance major projects in cities and towns across the state by providing matching funds that will allow Massachusetts to compete for funding through the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The MassTRAC bill includes many of the proposals our administration included when first filing the legislation, and I am grateful to our partners in the Legislature for continuing to support infrastructure investments in Massachusetts’ cities and towns.”

WEJ-IT Inject-TITE Epoxy from Allied Bolt

We offer two variations of WEJ-IT™ EPOXY including All-Weather™ Formula which has a working range from -15°F to 120°F, and Fast-Set™ Formula which has a minimum cure time of one hour.

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Available in 8.5 oz., 22 oz. and 28 oz., although the most popular size is the 8.5 oz., as it fits into a standard caulking gun.

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Allied Bolt and Screw Corporation, a Small Business incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by Richard ‘Dick’ Goldberg, has been building strong relationships since 1961 with an expansive quality inventory, exceptional service and highly valued customer appreciation. Allied stocks Electrical Outlets and thousands other products. Contact Us for more information.

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Foundation anchor bolts are used in the building, construction, and repair of wood and metal structures, such as building columns, posts, street lighting, traffic signals, highway signs, porch and deck supports and much more in concrete and footings.

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