Workforce Development: How Hard Times Build Bright Futures

Currently, Millennials and Generation Z make up the largest working population. By 2030, these two generations are set to become 75% of America’s talent pool.

This collective of current and future professionals claim these are the top three most appealing qualities an employer can offer:

  • Culture fit and work-life balance
  • Investment in their career with professional and learning development
  • Competitive compensation and benefits

September’s Thinking Differently, highlights two Catapult Member companies that have tackled workforce development issues within their industry by creating partnerships and investing in the future careers of local youth.

Marcus Rabun, CEO of Myers & Chapman Construction, and Frank Muller, President and CEO of Muller Corporation, met with our CEO Cheryl Richards, Ph.D., to discuss how their innovative efforts problem-solve the present and enhance the future of their industry—all despite today’s labor shortages.

Unprecedented Times < Unprecedented Problem-Solving

When it comes to tracing the cause of labor shortages, it’s not difficult to draw a conclusion that starts with “CO” and ends with “VID.” However, as witnessed in many COVID-related success stories, professionals across the globe have discovered the same motivator: You can’t always be prepared for the future, but you can be prepared to adapt.

This revelation inspired some unusual partnerships for Marcus Rabun. During April 2020, times were scary, and construction was deemed essential work. While people were being asked to stay apart, Marcus Rabun knew they had to come together despite being competitors.

Rabun created an industry coalition for general contractors and named themselves 4C (Charlotte Commercial Construction Coalition).

“[4C sought] to create standards that we could share across multiple job sites and across multiple states, which included how to tackle vaccinations in the construction industry, not to mention PPE,” says Rabun. “We understood that we can move the needle a lot more as a collective rather than as individuals.”

Today, 4C makes up 25+ companies and continues to tackle other leading industry issues including workforce development.

Catapult Takeaway: With leadership skills and resourceful thinking, Rabun tackled unprecedented issues brought on by the pandemic in ways that altered their cultures and their community for the better.

Attracting Talent < Training Talent

Following Rabun’s response to unprecedented times came Frank Muller’s solution to a lingering issue within their field.

Muller began the Craft & Trade Academy in 2019, a nonprofit organization recognized by the North Carolina Department of Labor.

“The Academy started from the idea that our for-profit business [The Muller Corporation], which does flooring, cleaning, solar panel installation, needed skilled workers,” says Muller. “Those workers didn’t exist, so we got the hands-on training they needed.”

This type of training can’t happen virtually or over a weekend. (Some programs and certifications can take up to 2 years to complete.) Muller saw value in building hands-on training into the structure and paying the students as they learned.

“It’s motivating,” says Muller. “It shows them that we’re invested in their future within our industry.”

Catapult Takeaway: Change is inevitable, but change can also be proactively pursued. By taking charge and creating new paths, Muller changed and enriched his own industry’s workforce. workforce.

Internal Investments < External Investments

Both Myer & Chapman Construction and The Muller Corporation get involved with their local school districts, introducing younger audiences to the opportunities their industry offers.

“Community involvement helps the visibility of the company,” says Rabun. “Being a known entity that has a good reputation, known for taking good care of their employees while caring about the community draws talent to our company.”

Through partnerships with the Architecture Construction Engineering Mentor Program of America (ACE) and the Partnership for Apprenticeship and Career Exploration Program (PACE), both companies gain time with young students, offer internships, and showcase career possibilities.

Catapult Takeaway: Investing in your local community, whether it’s with time, money or opportunities, is one way of growing and improving your company’s talent pool..

Doing It Alone < Asking an Expert

The success stories of both Rabun and Muller’s efforts wouldn’t be whole without mentioning the help they had along the way. When it comes to workforce development, most companies find they don’t have the time or expertise to dedicate to sourcing or retaining top talent. Catapult always suggests asking an expert.

Catapult Takeaway: Better developing your industry’s workforce has many moving parts. For the times you can’t juggle recruiting, interviewing, training, engaging and retaining talent, Catapult is there for you.

Inspired by our two guest speakers? Find more motivation to tackle issues head-on! Register for our next Thinking Differently.