By NASH NUNNERY
If you go by traditional thinking, then you probably believe Wall Street and Silicon Valley are the only places to make a decent living these days. Truth be told, the construction industry is desperately seeking skilled tradespeople for work and training, according to Lee Nations.
Nations, who serves as president of the Associated Builders & Contractors of Mississippi, said the industry is currently seeking workers who wish to make a career of construction.
“We’re trying to sell to the kids that college isn’t for everyone and that they can find a good job in the construction industry making a solid living,” he said. “Nationwide, there are over half a million workers needed right now. That number could double if the economy picks up steam.”
According to a recent study by Georgetown University, an estimated 31 million skilled trade jobs could be up for grabs by 2020. Skilled tradesmen can earn anywhere from $30,000 to upwards of $150,000 yearly, depending on location, experience and skill level.
Nations said ABC of Mississippi and the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation are developing the workforce of the future. A new 5,000-sq.-ft. training facility on the ABC of Mississippi campus has been constructed in partnership with the MCEF to further the mission.
“Being a driving force by going to the high schools and colleges has paid dividends,” he said. “We meet with students and parents and let them know that a good living can be made by going into the skilled trades.
“The MCEF is our workforce development arm”.
The ABC Mississippi chapter, together with MCEF, offers classes in topics as varied as OSHA policies to forklift training. Nations also said the partnership offers construction management education, with seminars on bonding and insurance, to name a few.
Nations remains hopeful that the construction sector in Mississippi will catch up with the rest of the country after the last recession.
“Historically, I think we will – things are much better today than it was in 2009,” he said. “Hiring is picking up, as are architect billings. All signs appear to be trending in the right direction. I know the industry is booming all over the country and I’m optimistic that things are going to get back to pre-recession levels.”
Now in his second year as the ABC head, Nations has spent the bulk of his professional career in construction. His father Perry, who served for over three decades as head of the Associated General Contractors of Mississippi, exposed Lee to the industry at an early age.
“Just being around the office as a kid and interacting with the sons of contractors gave me the impetus to do something (career-wise) in the construction industry,” said the younger Nations. “It’s all about people and relationships in this job. I love the folks in this industry, folks that are wonderful and solid working people. Today, I work closely with many of those same kids from my youth, as they’ve taken over companies from their fathers.
“The attraction to building and construction was too much not to do it. It’s a great career.”
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