As the skills gap widens, industries requiring skilled professionals are placing additional emphasis on credentials. This is particularly evident in the construction industry, where the skilled workforce shortage becomes more pronounced and contractors are recognizing the increasing importance of credentials as a way to validate the training of their craft professionals. Contractors that identify the strengths and weaknesses of their workforce maximize productivity by making the best use of their workers’ skill sets and turn their weaknesses into strengths.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CREDENTIALS
According to ManpowerGroup’s annual Talent Shortage Survey, the skilled trades has been the number one hardest job to fill globally for the last 3 consecutive years. The inability of contractors to find qualified skilled workers only highlights the immediate need for craft professionals to receive training that provides industry-recognized and portable credentials.
Contractors want to be certain that the craft professionals they employ on jobsites have reached a standard level of competency. NCCER credentials validate the training individuals receive and provide proof that they have the proper training for their specific crafts. NCCER credentials are industry recognized, which means contractors throughout the industry accept them.
NCCER is the accrediting body of the construction industry for training and credentials. Eight of the top 10 contractors on Engineering News-Record’s Top 400 Contractor List for 2014 are NCCER Accredited Training Sponsors, and one-third of the top 100 contractors are affiliated with NCCER.
The standardized curriculum offered by NCCER is comprised of training levels for each craft, and individuals receive credentials after successful completion of these levels. NCCER’s Core Curriculum covers basic construction and safety topics and complies with OSHA-10 training requirements, while NCCER craft curricula contain specific training for more than 70 different craft areas.
NCCER curricula produce journey-level written assessments and provide Performance Verifications which lead to industry-recognized credentials and certification. A craft assessment and Performance Verification can quickly determine the knowledge and skills that a craft professional has acquired through work experience and/or training. Candidates who pass both a written assessment and Performance Verification become Certified Plus, the highest NCCER credential available in most crafts. Research from the Construction Industry Institute has shown that employing NCCER Certified Plus craft professionals increases productivity and decreases absenteeism, injuries, turnover, and rework rates.
The NCCER Registry System is the credentialing and certification system that assures portability of skills within the industry by providing transcripts, certificates, and wallet cards. After successful completion of training levels and/or assessments, individuals receive an NCCER wallet card with a specific identification number that allows employers to verify their training and/or assessment history.
Industry recognition is a key component of a valuable credential, and credentials have proven to significantly increase earning potential and upward mobility. Many contractors will offer their craft professionals training through tuition reimbursements for coursework, paid craft training programs, and in-house training, which can lead to promotions or salary increases. It is also common for contractors to institute wage structures that reward craft professionals for reaching milestones in NCCER training, such as from the helper to journey-level stages.
ALTERNATIVE TRAINING OPTIONS
Contractors who do not have the ability to provide training themselves or pay for training can send craft professionals to their local chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America or Associated Builders and Contractors to receive training. In addition, contractors can partner with education to enhance local career and technical education (CTE) programs in secondary and postsecondary schools. This is the premise of NCCER’s Construction Career Pathways initiative. The initiative began as a response to the report “Pathways to Prosperity,” published by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in 2011. The report outlined the need for multiple career pathways in the American education system, such as CTE. This past November, NCCER hosted the Construction Career Pathways Conference at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Representatives from industry and education collaborated to provide guidance on how to build construction career pathways in states.
The goal of the Construction Career Pathways initiative is to provide a nationally endorsed plan that details how the construction industry and education can work together in their states to narrow the skills gap through training and credentials. CTE is critical in preparing students for successful construction careers by providing opportunities to earn NCCER credentials through innovative training and teaching programs in high schools, technical schools, and community colleges.
As America recovers from the economic recession, contractors with a skilled workforce will be poised for dramatic growth. The Construction Labor Market Analyzer forecasts that our industry will need more than 2 million new craft professionals by 2018. Therefore, contractors with a workforce of credentialed, craft professionals are better positioned to be more competitive.
It is evident that craft professionals with credentials and certifications are in high demand and that those credentials are critical to future success for contractors. As more contractors recognize the value of standardized training and assessments, the quality of their workforce will continue to elevate.
Ensure your workforce has the skills they need with NCCER’s credentialing programs. To find an NCCER training and assessment center near you, visit www.nccer.org/center-search. ■
About The Author
Amy Saxton is the communications manager for NCCER in Alachua, Florida. She is the managing editor of The Cornerstone magazine and NCCER’s weekly blog, Breaking Ground. www.nccer.org
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2014
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