The 2020 CEFGA Annual Report

CEFGA Pivots to Address Workforce and Georgians’ Needs

A Message From Our President & CEO:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on Georgians. We are seeing illness and death, and we are being battered by business closings, high unemployment and frustrating uncertainty about our future.

But it’s not all dark, and there are silver linings if you look for them. The construction industry has stood strong throughout the pandemic; from building roads and bridges to breaking ground for new offices and developments, construction crews are busy across the state of Georgia. 

As I write, there are more than 200,000 people working in construction across the state. Employment in our industry dipped slightly in April and May, but is already back to near pre-pandemic levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even when business was booming in “normal” times, finding trained people to work in construction was a challenge. The Georgia Department of Labor estimates the industry will grow by 13.8% by 2026, with 271,529 skilled jobs needed by 2022. That’s an additional 71,000 workers needed over the next two years! As Georgians continue to weather this pandemic, we must continue to think to the future and the importance of building our skilled professional workforce. 

At the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), it’s our job to develop these vital talent pipelines, while addressing immediate labor shortages we’re seeing across our state. We do that by educating young people about opportunities in the industry and inspiring future builders. Prior to COVID-19, this was done through in-person events and trainings. But when the world shut down just as we were holding our annual CareerExpo in mid-March, we knew our recruitment strategy had to pivot. And quickly! That challenge has encouraged us to be innovative.

Our efforts moved online, taking advantage of social media tools, like Facebook, to share the opportunities that are available in the construction industry to new audiences – such as people out of work looking for a new career. Over the past few months, CEFGA launched a series of Instagram and Facebook Live sessions where we discuss career options within the industry, address truths and misconceptions, provide insights on ways to enter the industry, talk about the value of trade schools, and more. We’re also hosting contractors, teachers and young people who share their own experiences and advice. 

These virtual sessions have provided an opportunity for people to learn about the promise the construction industry offers, and we’ve been inspired by the reception. On a recent Facebook Live, more than 2,500 people tuned in to learn more. We believe it’s giving many the information needed to enter the skilled professional workforce at a time when it feels like so many doors are closed.

Another pandemic pivot we’ve made is identifying more digital training solutions. So, for those people who decide to pursue a career in construction, where can they find training and industry recognized credentials online? We’ve identified some promising solutions like CareerSafe, which offers OSHA 10-Hour Training and employability skills training through their online platform. Shortly after COVID-19 shut down our schools, we were able to provide free access to OSHA 10 and employability skills training to 1,000 students across the state.

Whenever possible and safe to do so, we will also pivot back to in-person training. Earlier this summer, for example, we were able to offer our first in-person Construction Ready Training in over four months. Following all safety protocols, we were able to train, credential and place 14 metro Atlanta students in the construction industry. As proof for just how hungry our industry is for talent, even in this environment: We had 47 jobs identified for these 14 graduates!

One thing is certain in this new environment: We need to continue to be nimble and find innovative solutions in our approach to developing our workforce. By not sitting around waiting for normal to return, we will find new, better and more efficient ways to develop the workforce our industry needs. And we will continue giving Georgians the career opportunities they deserve. CEFGA and its partners look forward to leading the way!

Scott Shelar
President & CEO