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Crisis Facing Building and Construction Trades Industry

April 15 2008

Crisis Facing Building and Construction Trades Industry

Business and Labor Partner to Form a Solution

For Release: April 15, 2008
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group, 505-898-8689
Steve Crespin, MESA Program, 505-341-9033

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Many local businesses are facing a similar, pressing issue: a shortage of skilled workers. An aging and retiring workforce combined with a fewer apprentices joining the workforce out of high school is creating a crisis for the building construction trades as more workers are needed to help build New Mexico.

To address the issue, businesses and Labor Unions are partnering together to generate awareness for careers in the building construction trades through the Mechanical Electrical Sheet Metal Alliance (MESA). The Mechanical Contractors Association of New Mexico, Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 412, New Mexico Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 49, National Electrical Contractors Association of New Mexico and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611 launched the program to focus on those currently in high school or those lacking formal apprenticeship training in the construction industry.

As the current workforce nears retirement, the average age of union members continues to increase - meaning fewer people are entering the profession. This is true based on the lack of concentrated awareness, especially among the youth. Students transitioning from high school have traditionally been encouraged to pursue four-year degree programs, communicating the notion that other options offer less success.

In what has become such a college-driven society, the fact that not everyone is fit for traditional degree programs must be addressed. It can be compared to trying to fit square pegs into round holes - everyone is capable of developing skills; however, customary classroom settings are not always most effective when it comes to the varied way in which individuals learn and thrive. College expectations have focused career interests elsewhere, leaving the construction industry in a precarious position.

The demand for skilled workers in New Mexico alone is at its peak since the workload has continually increased with the expansion of business developments throughout the state. In southeast New Mexico, there is an estimated demand for more than 3,000 welders and building trade journeyman. In northwest New Mexico, a planned power plant will begin construction later this year; as a result, out of state workers will need to be hired to facilitate the workload. In the northeastern part of the state, prison construction is planned, but will there be a workforce shortage? In Albuquerque, new developments in Mesa Del Sol and SunCal (the former Westland Development project) will continue to infuriate an already stressed workforce shortage for skilled building trade journeymen.

About MESA
MESA is composed of the Mechanical Contractors Association of New Mexico, Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Local 412, New Mexico Sheet Metal Contractors Association, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 49, National Electrical Contractors Association of New Mexico and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611 launched the program to focus on those currently in high school or those lacking formal apprenticeship training in the construction industry.

MESA is launching a statewide campaign in an effort to promote the building trades, generate more interest in apprentice programs and to promote membership in respective unions. For more information about MESA call (505) 341-9033 or visit http://www.TradeUpNM.com.


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