Making a Difference – C3 at Ten years

Bryant Black

Director, Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership

As Construction Career Collaborative (C3) approaches the tenth anniversary of its founding, it is important to reflect on its history and provide an update on its progress toward achieving its goal of a safe, skilled and sustainable craft workforce for the commercial construction industry.

When the idea of C3 was conceived ten years ago, the construction industry was struggling mightily to attract people to careers in the craft trades. The root cause of the problem could be traced back to human resource practices driven by the need to be low bid in order to win construction projects.  It was not uncommon to find companies that did not employ W2 employees, but instead had 1099 independent subcontractors.  Since these craft workers were not employees:
• They were typically paid by the piece, and not by the hour, which meant that they did not earn overtime pay if they worked more than 40 hours in a seven-day period.
• They did not receive skills training.
• They were not protected by workers compensation insurance in the event that they were injured while working on the job.
• There was no construction career path.
• In addition, craft wages had remained flat for 30 years.
Craft workers were not treated as a valued asset, but instead as an expendable commodity. No wonder the industry could not attract the interest of a young person coming out of high school, or an individual considering a career change. Commercial construction’s human resource practices were not competitive with other industries pursuing the same candidates.

Enter C3.  Like its name implies, C3 is a collaborative effort of building owners, union and merit shop contractors and specialty contractors, industry associations and design professionals seeking to establish a sustainable craft workforce with competitive workforce development practices focused on safety and skills training linked to construction career paths.

Fast forward 10 years and C3 has truly begun to change the conversation.  Craft workers employed by C3 accredited companies are hourly employees that earn overtime pay.  These same craft workers have earned at minimum an OSHA 10 credential and many have an OSHA 30 credential, or both.  C3 Accredited Employers that employ these craft workers commit to provide skills training that is linked to construction career paths.

The proof is in these numbers:
• 278 Accredited Employers
• 102 Accredited Employers (and counting) that have earned a C3 Craft Training Endorsement
• 47 C3 Projects
• 27,343 craft workers in C3 Training Database
• 18,276 craft workers in the C3 Training Database that have earned either an OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 credential or both
• .81 – aggregate Total Recordable Incident Rate for all C3 Projects;
o 333% better than the national average for non-residential construction

The above numbers are also supported by a changing narrative pertaining to careers in the construction industry.  What was once perceived as a stop-gap job is now being considered as a possible career by many people.  Wages are growing because the demand for skilled craft workers is great.  Career & Technical Education programs in local school districts are providing curriculum for those students interested in a career in certain construction trades such as carpentry, HVAC and electrical, among others.

Finally, and most importantly, C3 is here to assist construction companies as they implement the workforce development practices that make them competitive.  In fact, C3 provides consulting services free of charge to its Accredited Employers to guide them along the way.  C3 is also launching a five-hour workforce development class entitled Driving Business Results Through Talent Management later this month and each month thereafter throughout 2020.  This class will share with attendees the best practices of industry leaders for how to attract, onboard, develop, evaluate and promote employees.

If your company is not yet involved with C3, or it is but you want to learn more, please contact C3 at [email protected].

Chuck Gremillion
Executive Director

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