Part of my job is to raise issues that stimulate conversation. That mostly happens in my blog that is included in our weekly newsletter. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong. And even when I think I’m right, some readers inevitably think I’m wrong. So it goes. Here are some examples.

Worker Shortage

In one blog, I asked what contractors are doing to prepare for a worker shortage if construction activity picks up over the next few months and noted that, “a rational immigration policy would help, but that alone won’t generate the labor we need if things get really hot. Today’s construction world requires skills and brains, not just a strong back.” This drew an anonymous comment: “Are you insinuating that immigrants have no skills or brains? Only strong backs?” Certainly that was not my intent. Another reader responded that his approach is to offer better wages to draw workers from his competitors and then treat them well so they stay. “But also, we need to build trade schools for all our immigrant labor so we can get them trained the right way.”

What’s a Super?

What are the responsibilities of a superintendent versus those of a foreman? A response from “dansim” was thoughtful: “I think the answers you will get on that are wide and varying, and I think it will depend on not only the company, but the region of the country. We work mostly in Texas and Florida, and even within our two regions it is different. The problem I see is our industry is being more office-driven and the project manager of a GC has more power than the superintendent. Taking the prestige and good wages away from the guys who actually build the job has diminished the quality of the foreman and superintendents in our business. I wish there was a strong push from the concrete contractor industry to have a stronger mentoring/apprenticeship program for these positions.”