Elsperman Speaks at BuildMO Week Event

ST. LOUIS (Oct. 4, 2018) – From the AGC of Missouri: Missouri’s Contractors Celebrate BuildMO Week Oct. 1-5; Tarlton and Other Contractors Tackle Critical Worker Shortage

Today, the AGC of Missouri, government and civic leaders gathered at Tarlton Corporation’s job site for the new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences at St. Louis Community College–Forest Park to celebrate BuildMO Week, a weeklong celebration of the construction industry in Missouri.  Results of a recent Workforce Study by the AGC of America were presented, showing that 80 percent of the Midwest contractors report difficulty in finding hourly craft workers while 57 percent report difficulty finding salaried workers: https://bit.ly/2xA2Pzu

Leonard Toenjes, CAE, president, AGC of Missouri, spoke about the economic impact of construction on Missouri’s economy and welcomed local labor leaders. Toenjes noted that construction is a major driver of Missouri’s economy, employing more than 122,300 persons in August (seasonally adjusted) throughout the state. View at: https://bit.ly/2xA7CC8

In 2017, U.S. GDP totaled $19.3 trillion; construction contributed $826 billion (4.3 percent).  In Missouri, construction contributed $11.4 billion (3.7 percent) of the state’s GDP of $305 billion.  Construction wages and salaries in 2017 totaled $427 billion in the U.S., including $7.2 billion in Missouri. The U.S. had 669,000 construction firms in 2015, of which 92 percent employed fewer than 20 workers. Missouri had 12,900 construction firms in 2015, of which 91 percent were small (fewer than 20 employees.)  SOURCE: AGC of America: Missouri Fact Sheet, Sept. 21, 2018

Toenjes also announced that Dirk G. Elsperman, executive vice president/COO of Tarlton Corp., will take over the reins of the 26,000-member AGC of America in April 2019. Nationally, AGC is the leading association for the construction industry. Its membership consists of 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms, and more than 10,500 service providers and suppliers also associated with AGC, all through a nationwide network of chapters. AGCA will hold its 100th Annual National Convention April 1-4, 2019 in Denver.

In his remarks Elsperman noted that AGCMO’s contractors are facing the worker shortage head-on. “We are revamping recruitment and engagement processes for the industry and forming new partnerships within the community and with our clients to help meet the challenge,” he said. “AGCMO currently sponsors five student chapters across the state – at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri S&T in Rolla, Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, State Technical College of Missouri in Linn, and Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.  And last week, we added our sixth student chapter at Southeast Missouri University in Cape Girardeau!

“During 2018 AGCMO has led the way to develop a sole-source industry recruitment facility for the St. Louis metropolitan region that is expected to open in early 2019,” he added. “This facility is supported by labor organizations and trade associations and also involves the vocational/technical training institutions as well.  When opened, this facility will provide a potential new recruit with a single source where they can receive information on the construction industry.  We hope that this will serve as a model for other parts of the state.”

In September, Tarlton opened a new pilot project between Tarlton and BJC HealthCare showcasing careers in union construction trades and in healthcare. The “Thinking Beyond Today” Career Resource Center is housed in a converted construction trailer on the site of the future Siteman Cancer Center on Christian Hospital’s Northwest HealthCare campus. The center is open each Tuesday morning (by appointment only) and on the third Saturday morning of each month, when guests can drop in. The center will welcome guests up until Thanksgiving, and again from Jan. 8 through April 23. High school students have the opportunity to meet representatives of labor organizations, community agencies and others who can shed light on the potential of careers in the construction trades.

“St. Louis Community College’s new 96,000 square foot Center for Nursing and Health Sciences demonstrates our commitment to fill the training pipeline for middle-skills jobs in healthcare. Our programs prepare students for success in 80,000 regional healthcare jobs – nearly half of St. Louis’ total healthcare workforce. The new building, situated in proximity to several major hospital campuses, allows STLCC to expand popular programs, serve more students and expand established partnerships with health care employers,” said Jeff L. Pittman, chancellor, St. Louis Community College.

“Shortages in key industries like construction and health care are the result of a perfect storm,” observed Toenjes. “As Baby Boomers continue to retire, there simply aren’t enough young people to fill those slots or to keep up with demand. Construction is an excellent career path for today’s young people. We’ve got great new technology, methods and products. And the pay for all construction industry employees in the U.S. averaged $60,700, 10 percent more than the average (mean) for all private-sector employees. In Missouri, the average wage was $57,600 in 2017, 21 percent more than the state average for all private sector employees.

“More importantly, the sense of pride one feels after helping to build a Center like this and the opportunity for advancement and/or entrepreneurship are endless,” Toenjes observed. “We are working hard to get the word out that the opportunities are boundless in our industry.”