Message from AGC MA Board Chair
As I was preparing this, it didn’t take long to realize how much our chapter and our committees have accomplished during the last 12 months, it’s overwhelming.
A year ago, as the new Board Chair, I put forward my priorities for AGC MA. To remind everyone, they were and continue to be:
- The Workforce Shortage
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Health and Safety
AGC MA has taken these priorities seriously and have made incredible forward momentum in each of them. Let me reflect on these priorities from my perspective as the Board Chair and share some of the accomplishments:
- The 1st of four priorities, The Workforce Shortage: The Workforce Shortage continues to be one of the largest challenges in our industry. Everyone in this room is feeling this. It’s real. Currently there are almost 400,000 openings in the trades across the country.
- The AGCMA Building Advancement Externship Program is in its third year. In our initial pilot year, we had 7 externs in the program. Before the end of this coming summer, we will have over 30 Externs from over 25 high schools and trade schools from across the State. This program is getting some traction. We have had over 100 applicants this year for the 15 spots in the program.
- The 30 plus Externs are educators, guidance counselors, administrators and even school superintendents who spend a week in August immersing themselves in the offices and jobsites of AGCMA members learning about the construction industry so they can bring what they have learned back to their high schools and trade schools to share with other educators, students and their parents.
- Our goal is that this program will have measurable results in addressing the workforce shortage, and, perhaps other AGC chapters around the country will adopt this unique and very powerful program which is clearly developing awareness of the career opportunities in the construction industry.\
- I would be remiss not to mention the overwhelmingly successful, “Adopt-A-Classroom” program. Last fall, the AGC MA Committee for Diversity and Inclusion got in on the workforce initiative and created and led a very successful pilot program, “Adopt-A-Classroom” at Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan with 5th and 6th grade students to increase the awareness of STEM careers in the construction industry. Because of the success of this pilot program AGCMA is expanding the Adopt-A-Classroom program this coming year by pairing AGC MA member volunteers with elementary schools throughout Boston.
- The 2nd priority: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: DEI is a very high priority with me, in our industry and here at AGC MA. It’s not just about making the numbers with MBE and WBE’s. It’s about the diversity in our workforce. It’s about providing equitable access and opportunities. It’s about creating a feeling of inclusion and a feeling of belonging.
- Last fall, AGCMA and Wellesley College hosted the 2nd Annual Diversity Summit where more than 100 leaders in the construction community gathered to talk about ways to dramatically increase the participation of women and people of color in construction. We as an industry need to go beyond state-mandated minority diversity goals that many say, “they just don’t work”. Even if these goals are met, it doesn’t necessarily mean that more women and people of color are being brought into the workforce. There’s a lot of work to do and this Diversity Summit is getting attention.
- We are all seeing RFP’s that now ask for more than numbers. For example, Northeastern’s RFP’s ask for a statement describing the contractor’s approach and highlighting actions taken by the contractor to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization and the industry. Things are changing.
- AGCMA’s Annual Diversity Summit has been a spring board for the advancement of DEI in our industry. This past Spring, Northeastern University hosted the first meeting of the Alliance for Building & Construction Diversity. This is a coalition of Owners, Designers, Contractors and Developers building a sustainable pipeline for industry inclusion. This was an amazing event. There, breakout groups collaborated on moving beyond diversity quotas and goals, and to find real opportunities for under-represented individuals and firms.
- The 3rd priority: Health and Safety: Our safety departments are evolving. Years ago, safety was primarily about being aware of the hazards that could cause physical injury. WE have all had OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 training that makes us aware of these hazards that cause physical injury. Health and Safety has evolved to include not only being aware of those hazards that can cause physical injury, but also those hazards that can cause mental and emotion injury. The suicide rate in the construction industry is 4X that of all other industries. We are moving to a time where OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 programs will include mental health training so our employees and trade partners are aware of these hazards.
- Just a month ago, AGCMA Safety Committee provided training sessions on mental illness first aid. Which both immediately sold out. I know at Columbia, our safety managers are about to receive train-the-trainer first aid training on mental illness so all of our employees will be aware of the symptoms of mental illness and know what to do.
- In addition, this past year AGCMA Safety Committee and member firms have developed the CARE Construction Safety Campaign as a result of the mayor’s call to action last August. The Safety Committee’s campaign includes best practices on daily huddles, pre-task planning and job hazard analysis, a universal safety orientation video and training on mental health first aid which is well underway.
- And the 4th priority: Sustainability: Our climate has changed and is continuing to change at an alarming rate. And our industry is going to be called upon to take on what is being called the next industrial revolution as we reduce greenhouse gas by quickly moving to electrifying our buildings, expanding renewable energy sources and building out our infrastructure. This revolution is going to provide all of us with incredible opportunity, if we are prepared.
- This past year, AGCMA introduced our first Sustainability Advisory Committee made up of some very forward-thinking member firms with the intent of helping our industry and chapter members prepare for the future.
- Recently, the Sustainability Committee posted a pledge on the AGCMA website to accelerate the transition of construction sites to allow for greater use of electrified vehicles and equipment.
- To that end, the Committee is requesting that all manufacturers and vendors of jobsite construction trailers and temporary modular buildings include, as standard, at least one exterior 50 amp receptacle to enable charging of vehicles and equipment at our jobsites.
It’s with great enthusiasm that I announce the priorities and the continuance of ongoing initiatives at AGC MA for the next two years and beyond:
Workforce Development – The workforce shortage is still one of the largest challenges facing our industry today. AGC MA’s Workforce Development Taskforce has successfully completed the pilot year of the Building Advancement Externship (BAE) program. The Taskforce is ramping up the program to have a total of 20 Externs this coming year with the mission to inform and educate the participants, through this immersive program, that we are a STEM industry that offers life-long, lucrative careers. Those educators in turn will build awareness and help to eliminate the misperception our industry currently carries to students, parents, educators and their colleagues. Our goal is to turn the workforce development efforts into measurable gains at the employment level.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) – The death of George Floyd was a turning point for our society, our industry and each one of our organizations. I believe Workforce Development and DEI are joined at the hip. Adding Marion Jones, AGC MA’s Director of Workforce Development and Inclusion is critical to the success of our current efforts including the BAE, AGC MA’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, and Building Women in Construction (BWiC).
Health and Safety – There was a time when Safety in the construction industry primarily meant being aware of and addressing the hazards at the jobsite that could cause physical injury. This is no longer the standard. Not only do we need to be acutely aware of those hazards that can cause physical injury, but we also need to be trained and to be aware of how to properly address those hazards at our workplaces that can cause emotional and mental injury. The Health and Safety umbrella is expanding, and it will have an influence on our ability to effectively address the Workforce Shortage.
Sustainability – The world is changing. The climate crisis is driving some of this change. AGC MA members are building Net Zero Energy facilities, building to Passive House standards, and using mass timber to reduce the embodied carbon in our buildings. Regulations are going in place to completely electrify our buildings to significantly reduce carbon emissions. AGC MA’s newly established Sustainability Advisory Committee will help better prepare AGC MA member firms, as a collective whole, on how we construct buildings in the years to come in a sustainable way.
I look forward to collaborating with my Board peers and our membership in continuing to deliver the value you have all come to expect and deserve from your AGC MA membership.
I am always open to suggestions. Feel free to contact me or any of the AGC staff with ideas or suggestions-I hope to hear from you soon.
Executive Vice President, Columbia