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Help Wanted. No. Good Help Wanted

2019 State of the Industry Report

Beard David

You do not have to go far to hear or read something related to the shortage of workers in America. The economic boom we are experiencing has created a scarcity of workers in virtually all sectors. The construction depression that started in 2009 forced many experienced workers out of the construction industry, which left a giant hole in our workforce, especially when it comes to lead men and supervision.

Today’s construction companies are placing more responsibilities on their project managers and foremen than ever before. With the margins that are razor-thin and the schedules tightened, it is more important than ever to give your leadership the training they need. The Ironworkers International, along with its labor management partner, IMPACT, has been busy developing new programs for construction personnel that will help them succeed.

Our superintendent’s course identifies the roles and responsibilities of the ironworker superintendent, how to manage project schedules, and also covers how to:

  • Manage information
  • Oversee people
  • Operate the job site
  • Manage safety
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills
  • Close out a project
  • Basic construction finance
  • Construction law

Another course offered is Foreman Training. The ironworker foreman is the primary link between the employer and the workers. The foreman works to ensure that work is done safely, on time, and according to standards and specifications. Foreman Training for Ironworkers is a course designed to help develop a skilled ironworker foreman. The highly interactive course educates the participant on the roles and responsibilities of the foreman including how to:

  • Create an effective work team
  • Communicate effectively
  • Apply problem-solving skills
  • Document and maintain records
  • Maintain labor-management relations
  • Plan and schedule work
  • Implement a safety program
  • Ensure the quality of work

When traveling, many erectors do not want to utilize a local workforce because of how difficult it is for them to keep up with all the specialty training required for modern panel and roof systems. This only exaggerates the problem they already have with the manpower shortage. To help alleviate this problem, we are partnering with manufacturers and contractors for job-specific, on-demand training. We set up specialty training for local workers so that when a contractor is ready to start a project, the local workforce is trained and familiar with the product they will be using. We believe this will help grow the contractor’s workforce and reduce or eliminate travel costs.

We also offer training for contractors’ office personnel. Courses on Bluebeam software, building information management systems, contract comprehension, cost estimating, getting paid, construction sales and more.

We feel that partnering with our contractors, and giving their field and office personnel tools they need, will give them a competitive advantage; they will be more efficient in this tight labor market. The best part of these programs is that they are provided at no cost to the contractor.

If you have any questions or need more information about our programs, you can contact me at dbeard@iwintl.org or look under the contractor section of impact‑net.org.


David Beard is the metal building representative for the Iron Workers International and president of Ironworker District Council of St. Louis and Vicinity. He spent 24 years working in the field and has been active in the union leadership since 2003. For more information, go to www.ironworkers.org.