In its latest monthly report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the country’s construction workforce in May was down 225,000 people from the pre-pandemic level of February 2020, a 2.9% decline.
The nonresidential construction industry continues to find it difficult to attract younger adults into the profession, leading some firms to cast an ever-wider recruitment net.
For example, McCarthy Building Companies, the national construction firm based in Dallas, recently formalized a partnership with the U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Success program (PaYS), to connect with active and former military personnel for future employment opportunities.
“McCarthy builds projects that help strengthen our nation’s infrastructure, provide spaces to educate our next generation of leaders, and keep our communities running smoothly,” McCarthy CEO Ray Sedey said in a prepared statement. “For us to successfully build these projects, we need the absolute best people—individuals with a drive for excellence, strong work ethic, technical skills, a team-first mentality, and a willingness to tackle the challenges that come with the complex work we do. The skills and talents we require of our workforce align seamlessly with many of the strengths that come from being in the military.”
PROGRAM GIVES SOLDIERS EXPOSURE WITH COMPANIES
McCarthy’s work has long included building facilities for the Armed Forces, and the firm is committed to recruiting, training, and helping vets for construction careers. Last November, McCarthy launched a pilot program with Adaptive Construction Solutions to identify and train vets with military occupational specialties for an apprenticeship program to work on utility-scale solar and renewable energy projects. Participants are considered for full-time employment with McCarthy.
Through it PaYS program, the Army offers soldiers a way to serve their country while, at the same time, prepare for their futures. Qualified applicants in the Army and Army Reserves or Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) enrolled in the program are guaranteed five job interviews and possible employment with one of their chosen PaYS partners after being honorably discharged. The same is true for ROTC cadets after graduation, commissioning, and completion of other obligations depending on the officer’s status.
A POPULAR POOL
There are several hundred companies and other entities that currently participate in PaYS, ranging from city and state agencies, healthcare systems, construction material and equipment manufacturers and distributors, fast-food retailers, and even giant investment firms like JPMorgan Chase. A perusal of the program’s partners list, though, found only one other national AEC firm, Burns & McDonnell.
Speaking of his firm’s involvement in PaYS, Sedey said that McCarthy “wants to be an employer of choice for our veterans.” The firm’s National Outreach Manager, Jessica Adame, adds “The skills gained in the Army or as a Reserve Officer—leadership, teamwork, and commitments to safety and quality—transition well to a career in construction.”
According to estimates by the Council on Foreign Relations, drawn from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, there were about 1.3 million active-duty personnel in 2018, less than 0.5% of the U.S. population. The Army is the largest service, with 35% of the active-duty personnel that year, the latest for which data were available. About 43% of enlisted Army soldiers are between the ages of 17 and 24 (officers are more prominent in the 24-35 age range).
Women represent 19% of Army officers and 14% of enlisted personnel. Among Army recruits, the portion of Black women is significantly higher than the civilian workforce. On the other hand, Hispanic recruits are slightly below the civilian workforce.