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April 17, 2014
by HopOnline
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Construction Skills Gap: How Bad Is It and How Can It Be Fixed?

 

The Great Recession of 2008 hit the construction industry hard and one of the consequences was that many skilled workers were forced to look for a job elsewhere. Fast forward a few years and the economy is in recovery. So is the construction industry, but where are the skilled hands?

The recovery is unequivocally good news, but it carries along certain challenges, such as the increasingly worrisome construction skills gap. The trend became apparent around mid-2013, but its proportions have grown in 2014. Let’s look at some of the implications for the construction industry.

What Is Causing the Shortage?

The issue becomes most apparent when you look at Optimism Returns: The 2014 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, a report published earlier this year by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Is there actually bad news in a report whose first word is “optimism”? Well, for the most part, it really is optimistic. The survey, including more than 800 construction firms across the US, found that contractors’ expectations are that 2014 will be a good year for the industry. Predictions are hopeful for every construction segment with the exception of marine construction. More specifically, the respondents expect growth in private sectors and stabilization in public ones.

But in that optimism lies the problem, as well. The fast-paced growth will create even more new job openings, and the industry is already struggling to catch up with the demand as it is.

How Bad Is the Problem?

Let’s start with the fact that 41% of contractors are positive they will need to hire new workers in 2014, compared to just 2% who are planning lay-offs. 27% were undecided at the time the survey was taken, which can add up to more than half of companies looking for new hires.

AGC’s report contains some very specific numbers about the areas in which contractors are struggling the most, too. 12% of them said they are “having a hard time filling all key professional and craft worker positions,” while 24% of respondents pointed to difficulties in filling not all, but some of them. Additionally, some contractors (9%) struggle with filling “key professional positions” only and another 17% are struggling with only finding people for “craft worker positions”.

Add up the numbers and the shortage of skilled workers is affecting nearly two-thirds of respondents.

Which Positions Are Hardest to Fill?

The shortage of skilled workers is not equally spread out among the different job roles.

When it comes to filling key professional positions, a whopping 48% of respondents pointed to difficulties in finding project managers and supervisors. 41% are struggling with recruiting estimating professionals, followed by engineers (21%) and safety professionals (15%).

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Photo Credit: marin / Free Digital Photos

Finding skilled craft workers seems to be even harder. Nearly half of respondents (48%) cannot find equipment operators. Carpenters and laborers are next in line with 44% and 37%, respectively. The shortage is also unfavorable to filling other positions such as: pipefitters/welders (30%), cement masons (26%), electricians (21%) and iron workers (17%). Only roofers and painters are relatively easy to find with only 7% and 5% of respondents reporting difficulties in filling these positions, respectively.

As for their expectations, more than half of contractors say that it will continue to be just as hard or even harder to fill these positions in 2014.

How Does This Affect Construction Companies?

Naturally, the shortage of skilled workers will be costly for the construction industry. A lot of companies are already losing employees who are looking for higher-paying jobs, either to a competing company or to companies in other industries.

More than half of the respondents in the survey had to increase benefits in an effort to retain their workers or find new ones. And not only that, but 89% of contractors believe the cost of providing healthcare benefits in 2014 will grow.

But perhaps the most troublesome part for construction companies is that if the issue is not addressed, they may need to start turning project offers down, because they don’t have the workforce.

What Could Improve?

Judging by the responses of contractors, we can identify some areas which, if improved, could ease the strained situation.

For starters, training programs for construction workers will need to be addressed. The majority of contractors report that training quality is not up to par. More specifically, 43% of them think local training programs for craft workers are average, and 55% of them say the same thing about key professional programs. Additionally, 36% of respondents rate the quality of craft workers’ training programs below average and 18% do the same when it comes to programs for key professionals.

Contractors are also increasingly worried about certain legislative reforms and feel they are affecting their business negatively. For example, 51% believe federal regulations that require them “to keep detailed records of all job applicants” will have a negative impact.

When asked which legislative issues are important to their business, the vast majority of contractors (77%) points to “preparing the next generation of skilled construction workers”. Some of the other issues that they think need to be addressed are multiemployer pension plans (25%) and passing a comprehensive immigration reform (41%).

This is simply an overview of the skills shortage issue in the construction workforce. Is your company affected by the shortage too? What strategy are you using to deal with it? Let us know with a comment below.

March 31, 2014
by WorkNGear
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Why Trade School Makes College Look Bad

School To Career 2012/2013 Replacement Naval Hospital Project U.S. Navy photo by Jesse A. Lora, NAVFAC (SW)

Considering going to trade school? There are plenty of opportunities. NAVFAC / Flickr / CC BY-SA

Trade schools make colleges look bad? I mean it. Not that there’s anything wrong with colleges, but vocational education really hasn’t been getting the credit it deserves. As Mike Rowe appropriately pointed out: there’s this perception in our culture that a college degree is in some way superior to alternatives such as learning a trade.

The truth of the matter is, there’s a need for plumbers, electricians and mechanics, just as much as there is for lawyers and doctors. And looking down on the trades is, as Mike puts it, “a bull—- attitude, and it’s creating huge problems.”

So in ‘defense’ of trade schools, and for every high schooler or apprentice out there wondering whether it is worth it, here are the top reasons for attending one. Continue Reading →

March 26, 2014
by WorkNGear
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How Do You Work ‘N Gear – Dog Walker Edition

Have you ever wondered what Work ‘N Gear looks like in the real world? We did, so we decided to find out!

Fresh from the sea and back on dry land we’re at it again with dog walkers Emily and Heidi. They take us for a stroll with some loveable pups about town in Boston, MA.

Now We Want To Hear Your Story

No matter the occupation we want to hear from hard working individuals like yourselves.

Open your video with: Your name or company – Your occupation – and a “this is how I Work ‘N Gear”.

Example: My name is Sally Sweets, owner of Swanky Confections. I’m a Candy Maker and this is how I Work ‘N Gear.

Try to keep videos to 5 minutes in length with the highest resolution available to you.

Submit your original content video by email to yourstory@workngear.com and a short bio about yourself.

The Not So Fine Print

Submitted videos may be featured on our facebook, twitter, blog and other social channels as well on the Work ‘N Gear website. Additional permissions may be necessary so please include a way to contact you in the event your video is selected. We reserve the right to edit all submissions. If you have difficulty attaching files by email please let us know and we’ll provide an alternative method. Whenever possible we will credit your name, company or both.

March 20, 2014
by WorkNGear
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Choosing the Right Work Boots: Steel Toe vs. Composite Toe

Unless you’re the Bionic man, you definitely need foot protection on your job.

“When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten” said the ancient Taoist sage Chuang Tzu. The old man had a point – when something is right, there’s no problem with it and we don’t even notice it. And that is just as valid for your work boots, as it is for most things in life. It is only when the shoe doesn’t fit (your needs), that you remember your foot. So picking the right shoe is important if you’re concerned about your safety, health and the simple everyday enjoyment of your job. Consider these main differences between steel toe and composite toe work boots, to find out when you should choose one over the other.

Continue Reading →

March 17, 2014
by WorkNGear
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5 Curious Facts About Apprenticeships in History

Apprenticeship is an essential part of being human. Everyone who has ever walked this Earth was someone’s apprentice. At first, we are our parents’ apprentices, as they teach us basic skills and know-how.

Later on, as we start to develop our profession life, we may choose to become an apprentice in one of the many trades – learning from a carpenter, plumber, electrician, construction worker, lumberjack or many others. But these professional apprenticeships have come a long way to make it where they are today.

To brush up on trivia facts, especially if you’re an apprentice yourself, check out these 5 curious facts about apprenticeships and how they developed throughout history. Continue Reading →

March 13, 2014
by WorkNGear
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How Do You Work ‘N Gear

Have you ever wondered what Work ‘N Gear looks like in the real world? We did, so we decided to find out!

We hooked up with Captain Smith and his crew out on the Lori B. They gave us a brief glimpse into what it’s like commercial fishing out on the open waters of a bitter cold January day.

Now We Want To Hear Your Story

No matter the occupation we want to hear from hard working individuals like yourselves.

Open your video with: Your name or company – Your occupation – and a “this is how I Work ‘N Gear”.

Example: My name is Buford Higgins, owner of Goin’ Nuts. I’m a squirrel trainer and this is how I Work ‘N Gear.

Try to keep videos to 5 minutes in length with the highest resolution available to you.

Submit your original content video by email to yourstory@workngear.com and a short bio about yourself.

The Not So Fine Print

Submitted videos may be featured on our facebook, twitter, blog and other social channels as well on the Work ‘N Gear website. Additional permissions may be necessary so please include a way to contact you in the event your video is selected. We reserve the right to edit all submissions. If you have difficulty attaching files by email please let us know and we’ll provide an alternative method. Whenever possible we will credit your name, company or both.

March 10, 2014
by WorkNGear
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Pastel is the New Black – Rock the Trend in Scrubs

ImageYou’ve been seeing this trend in just about everything lately. From home décor, to nail polish and even on the red carpet at the Oscars this past Sunday. There’s just no getting away from it. Those in the healthcare industry that are loving this trend will be thrilled to know that their scrub wardrobe doesn’t have to be pastel free.

With all of your favorite scrub brands carrying colors like mint, lavender and blush you’ll be sure to find just the right shade for you to rock this look.

If you need some inspiration – We’ve got it for you!

Lets start with BLUSH - As the go to mani color for our eCom Coordinator, she wonders who wouldn’t love it? Pink also says a lot about your personality. Those who favor it are viewed as friendly and approachable. Perfect traits for those in the healthcare industry.  AQUA - No one can say they don’t love a good pastel blue after seeing Lupita Nyong’o walk the red carpet in her stunning Prada dress. TANGERINE  - Last year those that attended fashion week would have told you “Orange is the new black” and this year with a slight change in the saturation it’s still playing a role. LAVENDER - is a color almost everyone looks great in. It’s been trending everywhere from weddings to hair color! Check out some of our favorite items by clicking the picture below and don’t forget to subscribe for the latest news and promotions.

WonderWink ScrubsGrey's Anatomy SignatureLandau ScrubsUrbane Scrubs

March 6, 2014
by WorkNGear
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5 Must-Have Apps for Hard Working Contractors

The job of a contractor is not an easy one. Juggling between never-ending office and work site tasks, you can lean on reliable tech tools to do some of the work for you. Luckily, a lot of the handy tools that belong on your belt or in your toolbox, you can now find as mobile apps which you can take wherever you go. Here are 5 Top Apps that any contractor can put to use:

The Quad Level (iOS & Android Compatible)

Price: $0.99 for iOS and $1.99 for Android

The Quad Level app is a very convenient and time-saving tool that works much like a traditional level and is entirely equipped to replace it.

Photo Credit: iTunes

Unlike similar apps, Quad Level provides you with four displays at the same time – vertical, horizontal, diagonal and 2D. All of them (except the diagonal view) can display measurements in centimeter per 1 meter or inches per 10 feet.  You won’t have to do any complicated trigonometry.

Worried about its accuracy? The developers of Quad Level boast an accuracy of less than half a degree and calibration is incredibly easy. Continue Reading →

March 4, 2014
by WorkNGear
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Happy Feet for Nurses: Blending Fashion and Comfort Together

ImageRachel Brittain, RN, BSN is a nurse at the Department of Radiology at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California.  Five days a week, eight hours a day, she is on her feet taking care of patients who are in need of diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and biopsies, just to name a few.

Along with her fellow co-workers, she is constantly on the move.  But thanks to her seven year love affair with Dansko footwear, she’s able to glide through the day with comfort and support.

“I love the way they feel,” said Brittain. “I have worn regular tennis shoes to work, but by the end of the day my legs feel tired and sometimes I get lower back pain.”

….

That is why more and more health-conscious shoe brands like Landau Footwear, Timberland PRO, Nurse Mates, Akesso and Klogs are stepping in the direction of trend-setting fashion without sacrificing the comfort and function of footwear that are both cozy and stylish.  Let’s take a look.

  • Klogs, a longtime favorite brand known for support and comfort, combines function with fashion to create the perfect shoe for the healthcare professional.  Klogs offers a vast line of polyurethane and leather clog in a variety of styles and colors.

  • Akesso footwear provides comfort to those on their feet all day; safety for those who work where slips, trips, falls and contamination are daily hazards; and style for professionals who want to look good on the job.  Akesso recently designed two new lines — the Helia and Carraria – both of which have the look and feel of a casual athletic shoe with the added durability and safety of traditional healthcare footwear.

  • Timberland Pro was designed to meet the needs of healthcare professionals, with each pair featuring an exclusive Anti-Fatigue technology created specifically for those who spend long hours on their feet.  It is designed to absorb shock while returning energy to key zones of the foot for all day comfort.

  • Landau Footwear which is both comfortable and durable, provides quality unisex nursing clogs that are slip resistant and shock absorbing. 

  • Nurse Mates has been committed to delivering quality, innovative products for nearly fifty years. Their premium full-grain leathers, slip-resistant bottoms and comfort technologies make Nurse Mates footwear a great choice for working professionals seeking long lasting style and comfort.

Tips to keep in mind when looking for nursing shoes from a podiatrist.

Three-Point Shoe Test:

  • Check the flex point of the shoe; it should bend in ball of the foot.
  • Check for torsion; how much does the shoe twist when grabbing the heel of the shoe with the toe of the shoe
  • Heel counter firmness or stability. The toe box should be roomy, wide enough, and deep enough so that toes are not irritated.

“Shoes should not require ‘breaking in.’ The outer sole of the shoe is also important, depending on the use of the shoe, whether its dress, casual, activity, or combination use,” said Dr. Dutra.  “Also, remember socks are very important for wicking away moisture, cushioning, and protection, as well as sometimes for compression.”

 

Read the article in its entirety here: http://bit.ly/1dnCMeX

February 27, 2014
by WorkNGear
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Post-review: 6 Amazing Olympic Gear Innovations from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Every time we see the Winter Olympics, we are not only excited to see the competition between some of the world’s best athletes. We are also excited to see the competition between tech innovators, constantly striving to come up with new ways of improving winter gear.

Of course, after a while, these innovations are no longer reserved for professional athletes and are handed down to us, the general public. This year the gear innovations were so promising that some people thought they might be the next “doping” scandal. Let’s look at what made news. Continue Reading →