Below you will find a draft article that I am writing for Construction Management Association of America’s (CMAA) Northern California Chapter Newsletter. I wanted to share it here and request any feedback that the readers of this blog might want to offer up. The article is a little lengthy when compared to the other posts; but, I hope you can give it a read:

Where Will We Find The Next Generation of Construction Managers?

By Michael J. Nelson

In all areas of construction, the problem is the same – There are not enough construction professionals to support the future demands of the California construction market. With numerous experienced construction professionals reaching retirement age coupled with the fact that not enough new candidates are entering the field, the upcoming staffing challenges can be daunting.

The February 5, 2007 edition of Calfornia Building & Engineer Magazine confirms something that we all already know – “Shortage of skilled and educated employees is an enormous issue for the industry, and one that will continue to grow. According to FMI Research Services Group, labor shortages within the industry exist in most occupational areas, including management. California and Nevada are anticipated to undergo severe labor shortages across all occupational fields. FMI warns that the scarcity of highly educated construction managers and qualified engineers is likely to present an escalating problem for the industry

How about your own firm? Are you experiencing difficulty finding enough entry-level construction professionals to support your growth? If you are, you are not alone.

THE SOLUTION?
What can you do to address this problem? The balance of this article will suggest grass-root ideas that you and your firm can implement to support the next generation of construction professionals. Many of the organizations listed in this article need assistance from the construction industry. This assistance can be in the form of donations of time, resources, and funding. Each of the following organizations can benefit from industry support to generate excitement about the field of construction and to mentor the next generation of construction professionals

ACE MENTOR PROGRAM
The ACE stands for:
Architecture
Construction
Engineering

This mentoring program couples high school student groups with construction industry professionals to learn more about career paths in the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering. Your firm can support this organization by providing mentors to one of the California ACE Mentor Chapters. Currently, you can find several ACE Mentor Chapters in the Bay Area with groups in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and the Peninsula.

Your firm could also partner with the ACE to offer tours of your home office, provide speakers for a “Day in the Life” point of view for the students, or conduct tours of your active jobsites. If you are a golfer, you can lend your support by grabbing your golf clubs and sponsoring a team for the Annual ACE Bay Area Golf Fundraising Tournament the proceeds of which provide scholarship funds for high school students that are pursuing higher education in design or construction industries.

Refer to the ACE Mentor website at: www.acementor.org for additional information. Click on the “Chapters” links for more specific information on Bay Area opportunities.

PARTNERING WITH LOCAL UNIVERSITIES
California has several universities with outstanding construction management and engineering programs. Some of these schools in the northern part of the state include:

– California Polytechnic State (Cal Poly) University in San Luis Obispo

– California State University at Fresno

– California State University at Sacramento

– California State University at Chico

Each of these universities produces top entry-level construction management professional. There are also several architectural and civil engineering programs in the state that yield students interested in construction management.

Each of these schools does a great job preparing there students for entry-level positions in the construction industry but each can use more industry support. In order to partner with the construction colleges, contact the department heads and see how your firm can help provide the students with more “real-world” construction exposure. Some of the traditional methods include:

– Have one of your managers or superintendents teach a class or speak at the student construction organizations.

– Conduct a tour for the students and faculty of one of your projects. For example, my firm is working with a professor at Cal Poly, to schedule a jobsite tour for 50 construction management students at one of my firm’s jobsites in Prague in the Czech Republic for this upcoming summer term.

– Sponsor scholarships for students in the construction program or donate money directly for new supplies or equipment.

CONSTRUCTION STUDENT COMPETITIONS
At the college level, you will also find extracurricular opportunities to support the future generation of construction managers. For example, your firm can help to sponsor the annual student construction competitions conducted by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) where students from construction management programs have approximately one day to develop a written proposal and oral presentation in response to a construction problem statement. The student teams compete on regional and national levels in several different problem categories including: commercial, heavy/highway, residential, design-build, mechanical and even more specialized topics such as LEED, BIM, and marine construction.

Refer to the ASC Competition website for the Far West and Rocky Mountain Regions at: www.asc67.org for additional information.

OTHER IDEAS
If this article piqued your interest in the next generation of construction managers, you can find more information on the author’s weblog entitled, “C-School Blog” (www.cschoolblog.com) which reports on current events / trends in construction management education, student construction competitions, and student outreach to encourage pursuit of construction related careers.

Michael J. Nelson is a project manager for Skanska USA Building working out of the Oakland Division Office. Mr. Nelson holds a B.S. in Construction Engineering from Iowa State University and a M.B.A. from the University of Florida.

Advertisements

kimmel.JPGAlthough I have posted on the Kimmel & Associates Scholarships recently, I want to report that this fund awarded 42 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each for construction students in the Spring 2007 Semester alone. An excerpt from the article can be found below:

“Since it was introduced, the Scholarship for Students in Construction has been awarded to 180 students at 76 colleges and universities in 34 states around the country. Each student who wins the Scholarship receives $1000 toward his or her education for the relevant semester.

As each new school semester begins, Kimmel & Associates remains excited about this effort to assist the construction industry. Joe Kimmel, the founder and President of Kimmel & Associates, notes, Weve seen a decline in enrollment at colleges and universities in construction programs, and the clients we serve and other builders are looking for ways to attract kids to the industry. We hope our scholarship helps.

The Scholarship for Students in Construction is offered to students across the country, and students from Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Florida, Michigan, Maine, and New Jersey were among those who received it for the Spring 2007 semester.

Students in Civil Engineering, Construction Management and other majors that lead to the construction industry may apply through May 15th, 2007 for the awards to be given out for the Fall 2007 semester. Recipients have $1000 deposited into their college accounts for the designated semester.

Applicants with the best chance of receiving the Scholarship are those who are in college but are also working with a construction company during summers, as interns, or even while they attend school.

To see the requirements or to fill out an application, which includes a requirement calling for a recommendation from a building professional, students can visit http://www.kimmel.com and find the link at the construction home page.”

westerncarolina.jpgA few weeks ago, I posted information on the construction management scholarships available from the Kimmel Foundation. Check out the article below which highlights a Kimmel Foundation Scholarship at Western Carolina University.

New Construction Management Scholarships Announced at Western Carolina University

Scholarship specifics from Dr. Bradford Sims, who is the Western Carolina Construction Management Department Head

The CMAA has offered scholarships to several construction students over the past several years. Check out the CMAA Website for a list of scholarship winners from the past few years. Judging by the submission deadline for the 2006 – 2007 school year, the organization will be accepting submissions for the 2007 – 2008 school year in the near future.

I hope some of the visitors to this blog are students; so with that in mind, I will post links to construction related scholarship opportunities from time to time. Check out the Construct My Future website to see it you qualify. Also check out the Associated General Contractor’s (AGC) scholarship opportunities here.

Kimmel & Associates, a construction executive recruiting firm, offers numerous scholarships to students pursuing construction careers. The magnitude of Kimmel & Associates’ generosity is truly impressive. Check out the article below, taken from a recent email newsletter provided by the firm – this newsletter includes a link to apply for the scholarships:

In 2004, the leadership at Kimmel & Associates began the Scholarship for Students in Constructionas a means to encourage college students to consider construction as a career. Since the Fall 2004 semester, Kimmel & Associates, the leading executive search firm in the construction industry, has given 179 scholarships to students at 75 different colleges and universities located in 34 states, from Washington to Florida and from Massachusetts to California.

Says Charlie Kimmel, the Chief Operating Officer at Kimmel & Associates, we want to serve our clients every way we can, and helping attract young people to construction, and supporting their efforts once they’re preparing for construction while in college, seemed like a great way to commit to a healthy future for the industry.

Kimmel & Associates is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2007 semester award and will take them until May 15, 2007. The application is accessible via the construction homepage of kimmel.com and can be completed online or printed and mailed back in.

As the number of applicants has increased each semester, the requirements have become slightly more stringent. An applicant now must have a construction professional call in a reference for the applicant, providing a very brief testimonial to the applicant’s talent and commitment to the construction industry.

Those who receive this round of the $1000 award will have the money put directly into their college account in time to defray costs for the Spring 2007 semester. Please visit the construction pages of kimmel.com and read further about the Scholarship for Students in Construction.

With college tuition costs escalating rapidly at nearly all schools, additional financial assistance is critical to students. If you know of any other c-school scholarships available, please post them in the comments section below.