Three Education Commitments to Help Bridge the Skills Gap

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook recently reported that “employment of construction and extraction occupations is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, a gain of about 747,600 new jobs. Overall growth in the economy and population will increase demand for new buildings, roads and other structures, which will create new jobs in construction and extraction occupations.” This astonishing rate of growth will necessitate short-term solutions and long-term strategies to help fill the void.
Because of this trending skills gap, it’s more important than ever to elevate training efforts to support today’s workforce and plant seeds for the future through development and exposure for the next generation. Contractors also know that education today must be delivered in many forms—from manuals and hands-on classes to online and self-help—to meet the needs of diverse learners. For example, Victaulic has invested significantly over the past decade to develop and deliver a variety of “blended learning” classes to ensure everyone has a chance to learn and improve their knowledge and skills. Following are three effective ways in which contractors can enhance educational opportunities.
It’s critical to develop curriculum that supports the distinct needs of the industry and flexible options for classes that provide proper accreditation for education credits. This can be achieved by using best-in-class approaches to instructional design for adult education through Langevin® and other industry-leading training approaches.
Victaulic has used this approach to develop a variety of industry and product curriculum as part of “Victaulic University” that allows for classes to be offered around the world at customer locations as well as at Victaulic facilities. It’s also important to offer credit compliance with many other key global and local industry organizations such as the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and the ICC (International Code Council).
In recent years, the industry has gotten much better at developing a variety of videos and animations to help support self-help, 24/7 training and development of the construction industry. By leveraging platforms like the company website and mainstream social platforms such as YouTube, contractors and construction-related firms can produce and deliver world-class, bite-size instructional content for those who want to learn on their own time.
Dedicated instructional videos shot in three- to five-minute segments can allow for easy viewing and learning. Recognizing that it is sometimes important to have these videos easily accessible near the time of product usage, many of these videos can be tied to QR codes printed on materials such as posters that can be hung on the jobsite, the fabrication shop or the education center, helping bring the learner directly to the content when needed.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “If you want happiness for a lifetime, help the next generation.” Boy does this ring true with employees when they get to see first hand the impact their efforts can have on developing youth through various development efforts. By being dedicated to engaging, inspiring and preparing the next generation of STEM professionals through hands-on education on everything from design and assembly of construction materials to supporting broader understanding of robotics and manufacturing processes.
Examples can include working with local Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America troops, middle school and high school robotics programs, teen summer entrepreneur programs, local/regional and statewide competitions and, most significantly, local universities and colleges where career training is provided in a wide range of meaningful ways.
One of the many youth educational programs Victaulic employees supported included the ABC’s second annual “Let’s Build” girls construction camp. As a proud supporter, the company’s involvement included hosting 25 young women at its headquarters, where they learned everything from construction design and virtual reality technologies to a hands-on lab where they picked up impact guns and built piping systems.
All organizations have a choice to make when it comes to the future talent and skills of the next-generation workforce. They can choose to sit back and get what they get, both as an industry and as a company, or they can make an active choice to be proactive. By choosing the latter, companies can make a difference in the lives of others through dedicated focus on education and development.



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