Rory DeJohn, senior vice president of Turner Construction
Rory DeJohn, senior vice president of Turner Construction, testified March 29 in front of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about what he thought it would take to close the skills gap for the construction industry and boost competition in the U.S. market.
With 1,500 projects going on in 35 states, Turner Construction approximates that it will complete $11 billion in construction in 2017. With this kind of expansive business and an impressive company history that goes back 115 years, Turner has the kind of experience that can speak to this issue.
DeJohn told the committee that although construction employment is up from what it was in 2008, there are still fewer people working in the industry than there were prior to that time. He also mentioned that although the industry relies now on technology for many of the jobs that were once done by workers, there's still a great need for skilled labor positions that technology cannot replace.
Without the issue of skilled trades employment being addressed, company's like Turner, he said, will have a hard time meeting the demands of the market — a market that is seeing growth in both the private house sector and public works projects.
DeJohn also addressed the professional side of the industry stating that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is vital to developing better engineers, developers and construction management teams.
“I believe the future of our students, as well as our collective future, is extremely bright, but only with our continued and increased support of their education beginning in elementary school and continuing through high school and into college,” he said.
DeJohn offered solutions geared toward both skilled labor and professional aspects of the industry. He suggested that in order to attract younger generations to these positions, it would take a collaborative effort from the community to encourage not just kids in high school, but also military veterans who are transitioning to civilian life. He spoke of increasing recognition of industry trade groups and supporting avenues such as internships, scholarship programs and other training opportunities that provide a direct path into the industry that is inclusive to people of all backgrounds.
In closing he stated,” We must also work together and act strategically to prepare more people to enter the construction industry, and to extend the careers of the people working in our industry.”—CEG
For DeJohn's full testimony, visit the link here.
CEG has posted many stories that coincide this view. For a collection of editorial pieces that illuminate the efforts of many in the industry to advocate for education, training and technology, visit http://www.constructionequipmentguide.com/industry-news/education.