The following article was authored by Harrell, Lauren. Reprinted from BuildHoustonOnline.com, August 21, 2018, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
There are many challenges in the construction industry, but one of the largest is the availability of craft-worker manpower. According to The National Association of Women in Construction, women only comprise nine percent of the total craft-worker workforce, so construction companies could see a huge boost in their recruitment efforts by targeting female candidates.
Several members from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston (ABC) chapter are working to include women on the jobsite. TDIndustries recently developed a plan to assist with the recruiting, hiring, and training of tradeswomen. MAREK created the Women@MAREK employee network to provide mentoring and support for women craft professionals as they prepare for a career in construction while working in the field.
“When brainstorming solutions back in 2016, we had a shift in mindset. We were always going to operate in a deficit so long as we were only recruiting fifty percent of the population,” said Randee Herrin, Senior Vice President of Houston New Construction at TDIndustries. “We realized that if we shifted our focus to the training and development of women, we could create a pipeline of talent that could lead us out of deficit and into abundance.” Herrin said she wanted to change the numbers, but didn’t know how to get started or where to find women who are interested in construction careers.
A few months later, Workforce Solutions, on behalf of TDIndustries, contacted approximately 2,500 female job seekers for an opportunity to work as sheet metal and pipefitter helpers. TD ultimately selected ten women to receive training to become full-time TDPartners. The women received OSHA 10, personal financial training, and workforce readiness training before moving on to hands-on training from the foremen. TD held its graduation ceremony in the Houston office on May 10 to commemorate the completion of the program and to celebrate the new tradeswomen who will begin full-time work with TD.
“We are so proud of this initiative and are honored to be working with these amazing organizations,” Herrin said. “With their help, we will be able to provide women access to a career with benefits and an abundance of opportunity for growth.”
Women have played major roles in construction for decades. During WWII and the Korean conflict, women had to take jobs that the men couldn’t take since they were on the front lines. Not only did women build the war machines, they ferried the men to Europe and the Pacific theaters. Many women lost their lives during the wars while doing so. Their model was “Rosie the Riveter” who symbolized the women who played major roles as riveters, sheet metal workers, and steelworkers. They built tanks for the front, built locomotives for the home front, and flew major missions around the world.
The Women@MAREK program was started in 2016 by Saied Alavi, a Managing Director for MAREK Houston, as a platform to help recruit, train, and support more women joining and rising in commercial construction’s craft workforce. The program is supported by company ownership and is led by women, for women at MAREK.
“Our mission is to continuously make both MAREK and our industry a better place to work while energizing, sustaining, and growing construction tradeswomen,” said Krista Sayre, Superintendent at MAREK and leader of Women@MAREK. “We provide a platform for women to care, connect, and coach at work.”
Sayre explained the purpose of the group, now numbering close to one hundred women, is to upskill productive performance, educate on personal development, recognize achievements, retain, and recruit. “MAREK employees take pride in craftsmanship and believe training is important in our industry. By encouraging women to play an active role in their success, we prosper together as a team through the growth of each player,” said Sayre. “We are proud of our craftswomen and the ideas they bring forward to improve opportunities for all our craft professionals. We look forward to working with our peers to attract and grow more women in construction, so our industry can access everything both women and men have to offer as we build the future together.”
To learn more about ABC/CMEF, visit our website at www.abchouston.org.
1. Statistics of Women in Construction. December 2016. The National Association of Women in Construction. Retrieved from: https://www.nawic.org/nawic/statistics.asp
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association representing more than 21,000 members nationwide. Locally, ABC Greater Houston was founded in 1969, and today serves several hundred commercial and industrial contractors, suppliers and construction associates in the Greater Houston area. Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston represents the interests of merit shop contractors and its employees in the policy making process of the government, protects and enhances the free enterprise system within the construction industry, and provides educational, marketing, and informational programs for the benefit of members and their employees.
Construction & Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) is the vehicle through which industry and craft professionals in the Houston area receive formal training. Our goal is to recruit new entrants and retain existing workers through a variety of programs focused on assessment, training, and continuing education. We believe that a community approach to training is fundamental to developing a skilled and educated craft workforce within the entire industry.