In January, Gov. Phil Scott delivered his sixth budget to the General Assembly. In it, Gov. Scott confirmed the importance of not raising taxes to help communities recover and thrive long into the future.
He also highlighted making historic investments to grow and strengthen the workforce and give young people more career development opportunities. This includes adding $1 million to the state’s internship program and $1 million to Vermont Student Assistance Corporation’s Advancement Grants, which help adults enroll in programs without a college degree; and investing $2.7 million to improve how to connect employers with career and technical education students seeking meaningful employment opportunities.
Associated Builders and Contractors’ New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter strongly supports Gov. Scott’s plan because it helps promote careers in construction while benefiting the entire state of Vermont.
Let’s consider the workforce numbers. In Vermont alone, more than 24,000 have exited the local workforce since February 2020.
“That 24,000 is larger than the population of every city and town in Vermont, other than Burlington,” Gov. Scott said in his budget address. One of the most in-demand job sectors: construction.
ABC is committed to building our workforce and creating pathways into construction careers. For example, ABC members helped Vermont vocational programs become credentialed to teach NCCER’s Introductory Craft Skills curriculum. ABC and the New Hampshire Home Builders Association partnered with the Community College System of New Hampshire’s ApprenticeshipNH program and Manchester Community College to create a new carpentry apprenticeship program that the chapter hopes to replicate across the state of Vermont. Gov. Scott’s plan to create a more unified approach to building the workforce will help expand similar programs statewide.
The construction industry needs to hire hundreds of thousands of new workers in 2022, but there are plenty of opportunities to get involved right now. For one, it’s a high-paying job with minimal barriers of entry. According to a recent Advisor Smith report, several of the highest-paid jobs in the country that do not require a college degree are related to construction. In fact, studies have shown that associate degrees and certificates can lead to careers that earn construction workers as much as or more than bachelor’s degrees.
It’s also one of the few industries where you can earn a paycheck while continuing or completing your education. Earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship programs mean less or no student loan debt, so more Vermonters can learn a valuable skill set while providing for their families.
Let’s dive more into how the governor’s plan benefits the state. For one, craft professionals help build the places where we live, work, heal and learn.
The governor’s plans can also affect the places where we enjoy the good things in life. Take the University of Vermont Recital Hall in South Burlington. The music hall was recently expanded and renovated by ABC member ReArch Co. to accommodate more practice and audience space while ensuring the spaces are handicapped-accessible. How can we enjoy theater and the arts in our beautiful state without having construction workers to build them?
When it comes to upskilling the workforce, we also need to think about making our workforce safer. ABC members invested $1.3 billion in workforce development initiatives in 2020, and safety education accounted for 71% of this investment. ABC data also demonstrates that top-performing contractors that incorporate safety education and programming into their daily company culture are six times safer than the industry average. By committing to safety programs and investing more time and money into our safety education programs, we can help create a safer workforce and ensure all Vermonters are coming home safely every night.
Scott’s plan to put more money into construction apprenticeship programs will give more local workers employment opportunities without debt. It will provide more opportunities so those enrolled in apprenticeship programs can do their jobs safely and efficiently while creating the communities where we live and thrive. ABC’s New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter thanks Gov. Scott for seeing the importance of building construction career dreams. You should, too.
Joshua Reap is the President & CEO of Associated Builders & Contractors, NH/VT Chapter.