Thursday, June 7, 2018

ABC Carolinas and Omega Construction Host U.S. Labor Secretary Acosta and U.S. Rep. Foxx for Jobsite Tour in Winston-Salem, Roundtable Discussion about Skilled Workforce Shortage

Winston-Salem, N.C. – Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of the Carolinas (ABC Carolinas) welcomed U.S. Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, and Chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, to an active construction site in downtown Winston-Salem last week. Omega Construction’s Hotel Indigo project, a renovation of the historic Pepper Building, was an ideal backdrop for raising awareness of the most critical issue facing contractors in the Carolinas and beyond – the skilled workforce shortage.

For the Hotel Indigo project, Omega is restoring existing historic columns, ceilings, brick and terrazzo flooring under State and federal historic guidelines as administered by the Secretary of the Interior. Labor Secretary Acosta and Chairwoman Foxx were given a personal tour of the project by Omega Construction President and CEO, Barry Hennings and newly installed ABC Carolinas Chapter President/CEO, Angela Latino. This was followed by a roundtable discussion on workforce development, construction education opportunities, and apprenticeship.

ABC’s Latino was joined by members of the Chapter volunteer leadership, as well as national ABC President and CEO, Michael D. Bellaman, who recently served on President Trump’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion chaired by Secretary Acosta.

“Based on the Merit Shop philosophy, ABC initiatives are designed to help our members develop people, win work and deliver work safely, ethically, and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which we live and work. Our Chapter’s current and future educational programming provides for more than just training people for a job, we create educational opportunities for lifelong careers in the construction industry,” noted Latino during the site visit.

The ABC contingent recapped the construction industry’s immediate challenges and long-term strategies and gave an update on what ABC as an association is doing on a State level. They provided feedback on President Trump’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion and offered ideas on how the federal government could lend its resources to supplement ABC’s efforts to build a more resilient construction industry.

“We look forward to working with local, State, and federal leaders to address the challenges before us. Secretary Acosta and Madame Chairwoman Foxx are strong allies for the industry in Washington and we appreciate their leadership in spearheading the effort to change how we educate our future workforce,” said Chris Bullard, director of government affairs for ABC Carolinas.

During the last decade, ABC Carolinas has established skilled trade construction apprenticeship programs, expanding both its Charlotte and Raleigh locations to include educational facilities to accommodate these programs. The results speak for themselves. The 2017-2018 education year saw the largest enrollment to date for the NCCER/Core class – Introduction to Craft Skills – with a total of 157 enrollees. Overall enrollment reached a new milestone as well. ABC of the Carolinas realized a 57 percent increase in total enrollment at both locations compared to the previous year. As of May 2018, there are more than 270 participants enrolled in the apprenticeship program. With future plans to expand the number of apprentices in Charlotte and Raleigh, along with the potential to launch similar programs at other locations in both North Carolina and South Carolina, ABC of the Carolinas is a major force in leading the industry effort to educate tomorrow’s skilled workforce.