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From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short

From the Desk of Executive Director Bryon Short - June 10, 2022

Great Resignation, Great Realignment, or Great Reassessment of work-life balance, whatever we are going through we are facing very real workforce challenges. On behalf of DCA, I had two opportunities over the past week to share observations regarding Delaware’s workforce challenges and potential solutions with two great audiences. Last Friday, I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion on Delaware’s workforce along with Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Laborer’s Local 199 and Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. This very well attended event is part of the United Way of Delaware’s Pancakes and Progress series. This past Tuesday, I spoke at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce’s always packed annual End-of-Session Policy Brunch on the topic.

We are in a unique time as many variables have lined up to make this moment. From employers facing workforce retirements that outpace their ability to hire, to employees seeking to align their personal life goals with their employer’s culture, to Americans holding record savings levels allowing them to stay out of the job market, the variables compound. For the construction industry, we have the added challenge of turning the tide on decades long messaging encouraging everyone to go to college.

I can tell you this, it is my sense that the conversation did start to turn a couple years ago. Although frustratingly slow, momentum giving skilled trades people the respect they deserve for their contributions to our economy and communities is building around the state and the country. None of the solutions are going to solve the issue overnight but we can see progress being made. Two quick examples are the Governor’s Construction Career Expo and DCA’s Black Skilled Trades and Career Council. Following the Governor’s Construction Career Expo, the NCCVT construction summer camp sold out. What was particularly noteworthy about the camp following the Expo was that the number of girls participating shot through the roof. Following DCA’s Black Skilled Construction and Career Council presentations we have had the ultimate success of connecting students interested in working in the skilled trades with DCA contractor members.

Of course, to really have an impact we need to attack the situation with multiple strategies. A part of the solution is what I was trying to do during my presentations. Share with people the importance of conveying to our students, their parents and those already in the workforce that skilled trades people are valued and critical to our state’s and nation’s success. DCA will continue to take every opportunity to speak before groups sharing the rewarding and varied careers available in construction. I appreciate UWDE and DSCC for inviting me to participate in such an important discussion and look forward to other opportunities.

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