Construction is an ever changing industry making it important to educate the prospective workforce about the future of construction. Whether it is small children in an elementary setting or students at the local technical college, it’s never too early to introduce construction career opportunities. By teaching upcoming generations the construction trades we ensure that skilled and hard working tradespeople build a future in construction. Here at Ellis Construction, we have been fortunate to see multiple generations continue with not only these trades, but within our company.
The technological advancements from around the world impact the future of new construction, remodeling and expanding of existing structures. The evolution of this industry will open up additional career opportunities with 3D computer design and imaging. Construction workers will always have a hammer and nail; however, technology is the ever changing tool they carry as well.
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I grew up in a construction family. My father was an Ellis superintendent for most of his career. Working with him first at home and then on the job solidified my decision that construction was for me. I knew I wanted to be a project superintendent.
For me, construction is a passion. While completing my bachelor’s degree in Technology Education, I minored in construction. Education for the construction industry never ends; I look forward to the opportunities to learn new skills and techniques. There are always changes by OSHA to keep the worksite as safe as possible; new requirements for specific industries such as healthcare; and technology is changing the way buildings are built. Keeping up with the changes and techniques requires attending formal training seminars, being part of hands-on demonstrations by industry experts, and learning on-the-job from other construction professionals.
Frequently I am asked why I continue to work in construction. The weather can be terrible, and the work is dangerous. Inclement weather is just part of the job. Whether it is cold or hot, we do our best to negotiate it. Safety is a constant concern, and we strive to work safely at all times. For those that ask these types of questions, I remind them there are things in any job that we can’t change and require us to work through.
Things I love about my work are:
- The constantly changing environment, no two days are ever the same.
- Different project challenges.
- Meeting new people – owners, architects, subcontractors, etc.
- Good pay and benefits.
- Most of all, being able to drive by a completed project and say “I built that.”
Construction is a very demanding industry and is not for everyone. Skills for the job involve much more than being able to use tools or handle a crane; you must have good math, problem-solving, and communication skills. Additionally, every project has an element of art, whether it is building a manufacturing facility or a church. As a construction professional, I try to bring out the beauty that is in every building. Sometimes it is the obvious things like elegant woodworking or stylized architecture; however, there is an art to creating a foundation that is never seen but required to support the building. Building a strong foundation, figuratively and literary, is why I love construction.
Tim Kreft has been with Ellis for over fifteen years and also teaches in the Associated General Contractors Superintendent Training Program.
All topics in construction these days, fall back to one overarching unique similarity: workforce. Everywhere we see concern for the future of construction workforce. There is a shortage of people working in construction now. Over the next ten years, the number of construction workers that will retire is much larger than the number of people going into the trades. But what to do about the problem?
Ellis is proactively going out to the future workers, students in school, to inform them about the positives of working in construction. These benefits include good pay, working as part of a team, and the pride that comes from being able to point to a facility and say, “I built that” even years later.
In the twelve high schools, Ellis has visited the response has been very favorable with students asking questions and seeking additional information about apprenticeship programs. Last year after visiting a local high school in the spring, Ellis had six students apply to be summer workers. Since then, two of these students have entered the carpenter apprenticeship program, and two more came back to work during their Christmas holiday.
Getting the word out about making construction a career choice starts early. Ellis has a program to go into not only colleges, technical schools, and high schools but to visit with junior high and elementary students. Planting the seeds with these students is one way Ellis is trying to help resolve the workforce problems.
Contact Andrew Halverson for more information about choosing construction as a career.