The skilled trade industry continues evolving

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I’ve been in the construction industry for more than three decades. During my time, I’ve had the privilege to work with some incredible people and had a front-row seat as the industry changed, improved and evolved.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done and proud of the people I’ve done it with. Construction is a very rewarding career, but it also is facing a labor shortage as our nation continues to grapple with a decline in skilled trade workers.

As someone who has worked very closely with many incredibly skilled tradespeople over the years, I know the value of the work and those who do it well. It’s the reason I am determined — yet excited — as I enter the final chapter of my career at Rockford Construction.

Earlier this year, I passed the torch as COO of Rockford, and in addition to my dedication to key clients, started focusing specifically on our trades, first cut, procurement and leasing efforts. In this role, I work closely with the trades and can have a more personal hand in helping to attract and retain the next generation of skilled trade workers.

As a part of my work, I currently serve on the board of the Associated Builders and Contractors Western Michigan Chapter (ABC/WMC). ABC/WMC was part of the inspiration for the West Michigan Construction Institute, which held its grand opening earlier this year. This state-of-the-art facility will be critical to the success of construction here in West Michigan and highlights the industry’s commitment to invest in the longevity of our field.

According to the Business Journal, the West Michigan construction industry is projected to grow almost 16% over the next 10 years. Simultaneously, nearly 48% of today’s construction workforce is expected to retire within the next 15 years.

I am a part of this last statistic, as are many of my colleagues. That’s why I’ve dedicated the last years of my career to highlighting the many opportunities available in the construction industry. Young professionals are the future of construction, which is why it is a priority for leaders to extend the resources and knowledge needed for successful careers.

For many in this field, construction is so much more than a job. We recognize it’s a livelihood that impacts everyone in the communities we work in, and I am honored to share this responsibility and privilege with the next generation.

I entered the construction workforce more than 30 years ago, and I now have a career that I look back on with incredible pride. I’ve worked on myriad high-profile projects within my time, but the most rewarding part of my career has been showing younger folks the endless opportunities ahead of them in construction.

Our industry certainly looks different than it did when I started decades ago, but it’s an industry that always will evolve. At Rockford, we have a vision of building a better world. I want the next generation to know they can build a better world, a better career and a better life in the trade world.

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