LANSING– The Associated General Contractors of Michigan (AGC) Labor Relations Division focused on the workforce challenges of apprentice recruitment, journeyman training, and workforce retention during its second annual Labor and Management Symposium on July 30.
AGC represents the vast majority of Michigan’s major contractors, and is strongly supportive of state prevailing wage laws as a vital tool to ensure Michigan has enough skilled workers.
Contractors are experiencing a workforce challenge across the country, those at the conference said, and Michigan should be supporting policies to increase that pool of trained, skilled workers who can safely complete their jobs.
“We’ve seen a lot of tradesmen and women leave our state in search of better opportunities. This is a critical conversation about filling a gap of skilled workers in Michigan,” said Bart Carrigan, president of AGC Michigan. “Construction is one of the industries hit hardest by the recession. As the economy continues to improve, the industry needs to be proactive to retain trained and skilled workers.”
Gov. Snyder has identified the workforce challenge as one of his top issues over the next several years. Contractors lead an important discussion on the importance of prevailing wage in keeping fair wages and good-paying jobs in Michigan. AGC Michigan and the labor unions it works with are the major providers of training and apprenticeship programs that help thousands of workers each year gain the skills they need to meet employer needs.
“Prevailing wage is an important tool for keeping jobs right here where they belong, in Michigan,” said Vince DeLeonardis, President of the George W. Auch Company in Pontiac. “I remember when prevailing wage was repealed in the ‘90s and the short-term savings added up to higher costs in the long run. A lot of the skilled labor we’re hoping to keep in the state was forced out in search of fair compensation.”
The afternoon-long conference included a luncheon, panel discussion, question-and-answer period and presentations. Marcia Black-Watson, the State of Michigan’s Industry Talent Director spoke about what Michigan is doing to address the workforce challenge, including Michigan’s apprenticeship and mentorship programs.
AGC of Michigan unveiled a new website that will serve as hub for construction workforce information and education – www.constructioncareersmi.com. You can find more information about the impact of prevailing wage at www.michiganprevails.com.
Organizations sponsoring the conference include: National Electrical Contractors Association, Great Lakes Fabricators & Erectors Association, Mechanical Contractors Association Detroit, Michigan Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, Michigan Construction Laborers’ Local 1076, Management & Unions Serving Together and Operating Engineers 324.