Colorado Public Works Journal, Summer 2022

INSIDE CCA Moses Alvarez Moses Alvarez is Director of Training at CCA and can be reached at Career Pathways in Civil Construction While the construction industry is well known for the many projects it completes both large and small there is much less discussion regarding how great of a career opportunity there is among its ranks in the skilled trades. This fact is both disturbing and a travesty. The Colorado Contractors Association has long advocated for the prioritization the promoting skilled trades as one of the best career paths anyone can choose to follow. There is much work yet to be done to turn this advocacy into reality. In order to see drastic change in civil construction recruitment immediate and extreme measures are needed in our talent development practices. Individuals entering their employment need a defined trajectory of how their progress creates advancement within their initial role and as their role and responsibilities change. Although this transformation occurs differently for everyone the need for a structured system to track progress as competencies are learned and demonstrated needs to be established for the many crafts that exist within the industry. Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) are the key to engaging the interest we need for those seeking to enter the skilled trades. Apprenticeship has been utilized successfully for decades. Expanding on this great tradition of on-the-job learning into the trades that traditionally exist within the crafts that the civil construction employs it the next step. CCA’s RAP has been in existence since 1989. For more than 30 years CCA has worked with a small group of its members to help them establish a system for developing Carpenters, Heavy Equipment Operators and Concrete Finishers. Enhancements have been made to the program over the years, but the one thing it has lacked is an entry-level starting point. If you ask any employer, it takes many years for an individual that is new to the industry to acquire the time and skills to be considered a “Journeyperson” within their craft. CCA’s existing programs normally have one to two years of experience before being enrolled so it is rarely a starting point for those first starting out. A new craft area of a Construction Craft Laborer will provide that preliminary introduction to civil construction work activities. This would shape a four-to-six-year total program from start to finish. Not only will it provide more time for an employer to build a new employee into a more well-rounded member of their crew it will also shape that individual’s career path in a manner that will entice many to join the ranks. Last year in this publication I offered a definition of a Construction Craft Professional. I think it bears repeating this year: “A highly skilled individual that has become proficient in one or multiple construction skilled trades through on-the-job learning, mentoring, apprenticeship, formal education, technical instruction or any combination thereof. This individual values safety, teamwork, effective communication, leadership, work ethic, integrity, fairness and works to promote these ideals in their daily life on and off site in order to support their work and continued success of the construction industry.” If our goal is to have the majority of skilled craft workers in our industry embody this definition a newly structured multileveled RAP offers a great system to achieve that goal. As CCA endeavors to start the new Colorado Construction Academy this year that will highlight work on infrastructure projects across the entire state of Colorado the prospect of new talent entering our sector of the industry is very exciting. Providing the Construction Craft Laborer Program will give our excited new recruits a launching platform that will keep them engaged for the years to come. Workforce development within the civil/infrastructure construction industry is due for a much-needed update to improve recruitment and retention of employees that are needed to build Colorado’s future. The Colorado Construction Academy and Construction Craft Laborer Apprenticeship will help to pave a path for individuals starting out in the industry and will ultimately help them as they seek future advancement into supervisory roles and company management or ownership. This will help enhance the skill level at all ranks of the industry. Many construction craft workers hit a promotion limitation within their trade due to insufficient education. This not only limits their potential but their employer’s as well. This program will create a heightened base level of training and education for attendees that graduate and will in turn help create a ladder for them as they seek promotion in later years of their career. With new State and Federal funds being injected into Colorado’s infrastructure we are in the spotlight. Let’s take this attention and capitalize on it. We need commitment from workforce development focused contractors that will partner with CCA to provide the talent required to complete the workload that is in front of us. Let’s get to work! 58| ColoradoPublic Works Journal