Let’s Trade Up!

Vittoria Haritos Blog

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a construction leader say they need better tradespeople I would be a very rich woman! Finding talented sub-contractors has been an on-going issue and unless we as an industry do something about the lack of training opportunities available, it’s only going to get worse.

 
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At the January Construction Executives Association meeting members had the opportunity to hear from Peter Dyga, the President of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter, Inc. (ABC). Peter shared with us his insight on hot legislative issues and how members of the construction industry can help lobby key concerns.  The bulk of lobbying takes place in the next ninety days (March) and all lobbying and committee meetings must be virtual this year.  Although it will be a unique circumstance given the digital nature of these meetings, it offers the chance for more people to be heard.  Now that lobbying takes place virtually and doesn’t require a trip to Tallahassee, more construction professionals can and should get involved.

 
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Peter spoke passionately about three key issues but, I’m going to focus on his final one, apprenticeship. 

Rob, the owner of Advanced Roofing, mirrored Dyga’s sentiment that we need to support construction education at a trade level. Apprenticeship is an invaluable program available to high school graduates and in some cases, younger students.  Currently, funding is subsidized by the state and flows through a college or university to a registered apprenticeship program.  Often, matriculation agreements exist. For instance, the roofing apprenticeship available through the ABC Institute and Advanced Roofing providing 24 credits hours at Broward College.

 
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According to Dyga, the Department of Education does not recognize apprenticeship as a stand-alone path for education, instead, they see it as an “on-ramp to a four-year degree.” The truth is, there are people who just aren’t suited for the standard four-year degree path.  Take my nephew for example, he had no inclination to attend college, yet knew he wanted to work with his hands.  Fortunately, his father, my brother-in-law, is a superintendent for a steel fabrication company and was ready and willing to give him a position to help him develop his career in the construction industry.  If Joshua hadn't had an immediate family member inclined to mentor him, an apprentice program would have been perfect for him.

 
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What can you do?  Peter had three suggestions for how we can work together to progress this important aspect of our industry.  He said, “Ultimately,  we must come to a census before we can move forward.”  Here’s how you can help between now and March:

1.) Host and attend district meetings where leaders of the construction industry have the opportunity to have facetime with our local legislators. (FIND LINK) http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Welcome/index.cfm

2.) Speak to legislators you may know personally.  Ever run into the mayor at the gym, well you might if you worked out at Powerhouse Fort Lauderdale?!  I get the chance to see Mr. Trantalis there every once in a while but, we both usually have our game faces on and I don’t want to interrupt him.  

3.) Attend pre-session and session zoom meetings.  Here’s the most important way to be “in the know” AND voice your opinion.

 
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As an Interior Designer, this is a very dear topic.  While we may envision, conceptualize, and even document the interior architecture of a building, it’s up to the tradespeople to make that vision a reality.  Without them, our ideas are just a pie in the sky.  I believe that tradespeople bring our ideas to life and having educated, well-qualified tradespeople on a project is what really sets it apart.  As you can see, I was inspired and encouraged during this meeting, and now I hope you are too!