BY JEANIE J. CLAPP
By the time this issue lands on desks and is available online, we will be celebrating Women in Construction week. It’s appropriate then that our cover story is about that exact subject matter.
Based on an AGC analysis of federal data, women make up less than nine percent of the total construction workforce, and less than three percent of the construction craft professional workforce. As part of a combined effort to keep women in the workforce safe while encouraging others to join this dynamic and rewarding industry, Autodesk and AGC of America, in 2020, awarded grants to 21 construction firms to provide more than 300 fall protection safety harnesses designed specifically for women. You may remember we covered this story last year (http://bit.ly/SafetyHarnessStory).
Keeping women outfitted properly continues to be an industry trend. We’re not talking about a harness this time, but the first Class-3 women’s safety vest in North America — required to be worn on highway construction projects. The vests — designed by women for women — fit better, and therefore keep workers safer, more comfortable and more confident. Further good news for the industry — and a nod to the collaborative nature of it — is that any contractor can purchase this safety vest. Want to know more? You’ll find all the details in “Vested Interest” on pages 27-33.
It’s this kind of initiative that is helping to boost the construction workforce, which is a common thread in many of this issue’s stories and is needed now more than ever as a result of the pandemic that continues to plague the industry and the globe. AGC of America’s 2021 Con-struction Hiring and Business Outlook report, released in January, shows that only 35 percent of respondents plan to add staff this year and more than half of contractors (54 percent) are having difficulty finding qualified workers to expand their headcount or replace departing staff. More details on the survey results, as well as AGC’s analysis of the data, are included in our feature, “Expecting a Lean Year,” beginning on page 12.
There is still plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to the industry and its efforts to strengthen the workforce. Take, for example, a new app-based e-learning platform that is tackling some of the challenges contractors face in onboarding new employees as well as training long-standing workers. Technology is quickly becoming a must-have in the industry’s proverbial toolbox and platforms like this are grabbing the attention of — and demonstrating the industry’s investment in — the younger generation, all in an effort to build a strong workforce, which in turn will build our roads, bridges, schools and workplaces, which in turn will re-build our nation’s economy. Do not miss this tech-nology story on pages 18-23.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Constructor magazine. As always, your feedback is encouraged and appreciated.