Dorsey Hager, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed a recent event held in Columbus and the growing demand for skilled labor in the region.
On April 7, Hager told AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc about the recent North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) event that featured NABTU President Sean McGarvey. Called, “Meeting the Moment”, the nationwide tour’s first stop was at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 189 Union Hall in Columbus.
During the event, McGarvey explained that now is the time for the building trades to expand their numbers. Public perception of unionized labor is high, and the Biden administration fully supports organized labor and how it offers a pathway to the middle class. There is a nationwide demand for union construction workers. To meet this demand, affiliated NABTU Local Unions need to improve their outreach in order to organize more non-union construction workers and recruit more apprentices.
McGarvey called the Building Futures program a model Apprenticeship Readiness Program that the rest of the nation should follow.
The Meeting the Moment event included 19 speakers from various industries to discuss the region’s success and future growth. Following the speeches, guests received a tour of the Local 189 Training Center and observed an orbital welding demonstration.
The need for skilled building trades workers is increasing in Central Ohio
Hager discussed the growing demand for skilled labor in Central Ohio. There are currently 15,000 people working in the building trades in the region, but an additional 15,000 workers will be needed in the next 18 months to keep up with demand.
He pointed to several upcoming regional projects, including the expansion of Facebook’s datacenter and the construction of new facilities for Intel and Honda, as evidence of the need for more skilled workers.
In Central Ohio, most building trades leaders are working to expand their apprenticeship programs to meet this need. For example, the Local 189 JATC has increased the size of its training center by 400 percent. The Electrical Trades Center (IBEW Local 683 jATC) aims to increase the size of its apprenticeship program from 586 to 1,000 by the summer of 2024.
The pathway to the middle class
Hager emphasized the importance of creating job opportunities that provide a direct pathway to the middle class. Central Ohio could create a more sustainable and equitable future for its residents by expanding apprenticeship programs and investing in additional affordable housing developments.
The Building Futures and Driving Futures programs provide opportunities for members of the underserved communities to gain direct pathways to the middle class through either a building trades apprenticeship or employment in the union transportation industry.