COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | WILLIAM SMYTH

Construction industry’s resolutions for 2015

More than half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. It seems natural at the end of a year and the beginning of a new one to make a pledge to pursue healthier or more productive habits. There is no reason construction professionals shouldn’t take advantage and set positive goals for 2015. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions worth consideration by members of our industry whether you are a CEO, owner, skilled craft professional, or brand new construction apprentice just starting a career.

1. Make safety a priority: We talk so much about safety that it threatens to become white noise. But we cannot afford to let our attention to safety slip. The construction industry remains one of the most dangerous and injury-prone for workers in the United States. It costs time, money, well-being, and lives. In many cases, a safety lapse or failure by one person causes harm to many others.

Making safety a priority isn’t selfish — it’s an act of concern for your co-workers and the community. Resolve to stay abreast of current safety practices and regulations. Help keep your colleagues and employees informed about any changes. Refresh your education about the kind of behaviors that lead to injuries; take measures to prevent them and don’t take shortcuts. One of the easiest: When you’re operating a vehicle, please don’t text and drive. Ever.

2. Pursue advanced education: The ABC San Diego Apprenticeship Training Trust trains hundreds of craft professionals every year. But training doesn’t stop once an individual completes an apprenticeship or craft training program. Ongoing training in new technology, techniques, materials and codes is a vital part of being a qualified construction professional.

ABC San Diego’s continuing education program offers journeyperson training, management training, all safety certifications, and helps craft professionals meet their continuing education requirements to advance in their careers. You can also pursue continuing education through local chamber of commerce programs and extended studies programs at all of San Diego’s two- and four-year colleges and universities.

3. Develop the next generation of skilled craft professionals: The construction industry will see many skilled workers retiring over the next decade as the baby boomers age out, creating a serious shortage of skilled craft professionals.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s 2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook shows five of the 30 occupations with the largest employment increase through 2022 are related to construction, twice the average rate for all industries. Our industry leaders need to work together to find solutions and create career opportunities. This includes offering apprenticeships and encouraging more high school students to pursue construction industry careers by working with schools and youth programs.

ABC San Diego’s Apprenticeship Training Trust pledges to do its part. The best news: Most of these opportunities don’t require accumulating massive debt for a college degree.

4. Stay connected, stay on top of trends: Staying informed about construction trends and issues is crucial to being an effective business leader and preserving a positive economic climate. When you see the big picture, you can anticipate what may be around the corner and gain time to react and adapt. Better yet, become active with industry professional associations such as ABC San Diego. Add your voice to help educate and inform government and regulatory agencies to make sure their decisions don’t hurt our business climate.

5. Commit yourself to professionalism: My final resolution is aimed at my construction industry colleagues, but it applies to everyone in the workplace, no matter the industry.

In order to succeed, you must demonstrate professionalism. This isn’t about wearing a suit or carrying a briefcase. It means making a conscious effort every day to be a responsible, accountable individual who strives for excellence and acts with integrity. It means making an effort to communicate effectively and respectfully; to use good problem solving skills; and always to treat everyone who crosses your path with respect.

Employers need people with specific job skills, but they value someone with professionalism. You can teach skills, but you cannot teach character. At every construction site and in every builder’s office, professionalism is easy to see. Professionalism ensures individual and companywide success in construction or any industry.

On behalf of ABC San Diego and all construction professionals, we hope 2015 will fulfill its early promise of growth and prosperity in our hard-hit industry. Those dedicated to excellence at all levels have made it through the worst of our economic downturn. We look forward to partnering with these companies and supporting their efforts to make 2015 a prosperous one from start to finish.


Smyth is chief financial officer of Sherwood Mechanical and chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors San Diego Apprenticeship Training Trust board of trustees.

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