Shon Smith
Prefabrication Manager, 
ACI Mechanical
Ames, Iowa

Prefabrication is the next wave of construction; we’ve seen it in housing, commercial buildings and even high-rise towers. Developing an effective prefabrication model in our company has helped alleviate the problems we’ve faced with a shrinking workforce. Building assemblies of duct, pumps or coil stations in our shop has empowered our smaller installation crews to construct buildings on time and with less field support.

Technology is another way to do more with less. What used to take several people and quite a bit of time to coordinate now can be done with a fraction of the people. Tablets, smartphones and CAD-programmed layout tools can shorten the time from design to installation. Utilizing cloud-based project management software has helped us get more accurate information to our installation departments before they need it.

Finally, keeping our employees in a continuing education program has gone a long way to retaining our workforce and ensuring our projects are finished accurately and under budget.

Ronnie Neumann
Alloy Construction Service, Inc.

Midland, Mich.

High school students are increasingly being told they are not going to measure up if they don’t pursue post-secondary education. To most educators and legislators, that means college. But many students struggle with “book learning” and are going to fall by the wayside if not given other options.

I have participated in countless job fairs through the years and found them to be ineffective in giving students realistic exposure to construction career paths and earning potential.

The Greater Michigan Construction Academy JumpStart Program is unique in that the students visit actual shops and jobsites and observe or participate in hands-on activities. They have an opportunity to get more up close and personal with workers from a variety of trades who help them make the connection between what they’re learning in school and their future success in construction. It’s a real eye-opening experience that offers hope for students who might not see a bright future for themselves.

Clay Kubicek
Education Director, Crossland Construction

Columbus, Kan.

We have been working to get high schools and post-secondary programs to offer nationally recognized credentials to their students. We sponsor a number of school construction programs in three states and use credentialing as an NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor and Assessment Center.

Kansas helped move the importance of career and technical credentialing for high school students to a new level with S.B. 155, which Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law last year. The new law gives all high school students free tuition for technical education courses taken at nearby technical and community colleges. It also gives each school district a $1,000 incentive for every high school student who graduates with an industry-recognized credential in a “high-need” occupation.

With an industry-recognized credential, graduates have a documented, marketable skill to enter the workforce. Colleges benefit from more students, the school districts benefit from the incentive and the economy benefits from a stronger skilled workforce. Everybody wins.