Western Specialty Contractors’ home state of Missouri recently joined the league of states across the country to officially declare October as Careers in Construction Month (CICM).
CCIM is a nationwide campaign held every October to increase public awareness of construction careers, inspire the next generation of craft professionals, and make an impact on public perceptions of careers in construction. Industry employers are encouraged to conduct job fairs and hold panel discussions and community events to educate students on the vast employment opportunities in construction.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the construction industry is one of the nation’s largest industries, employing more than 7 million individuals in the United States (128,000 in Missouri) and that the construction industry will need over 2 million new craft professionals by 2025.
“It is imperative that the construction industry as a whole work in unison to reach young audiences and introduce them to the rewarding careers in construction. The designation of Careers in Construction Month will provide a significant impetus to improving the perception of construction careers as both emotionally and physically rewarding and therefore assist in efforts to reach Missouri's youth and displaced workers, thus directing them toward careers in the construction industry,” according to the CICM proclamation signed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Sept. 14, 2021.
Western Specialty Contractors, the nation's largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and roofing, has continued to do its part since its founding over 100 years ago to educate young people across the country about the benefits of careers in construction.
To expose college students to careers in specialty contracting and begin developing qualified employees to fill its management positions long-term, Western Specialty Contractors recruits candidates from leading construction management colleges and universities across the country for its comprehensive, hands-on internship program.
Western’s talent acquisition team and 30 branch managers visit colleges and universities throughout the year to provide students with first-hand perspectives into the specialty field of restoration construction and preventative waterproofing. Those students who take part in Western's internship program have the opportunity to gain much more than a traditional work experience; they are exposed to various career levels, from sales and project management to work in the field.
"We believe the growth of our workforce depends on a strong internship program. If the intern enjoys their internship experience, then there is a good chance they will be receptive to long-term career opportunities within Western," said Aaron Moore, Manager, Talent Acquisition & Diversity at Western. "With over 100 years of experience, and in a constant state of growth, Western’s initiatives to attract and hire some of the best talent in the industry have been proven effective time and time again.”
Of the 64% of students Western hires from its internship program, the average number of years they spend with Western before getting promoted to a management position is just five. Over 85% of Western’s managers have been promoted from within the company.
Josh Woolard, a former intern at Western's Chicago Branch, was hired by Western and is currently working as a Sales Project Manager at Western's Springfield, IL Branch. For Woolard, the hands-on experience he received while an intern helped guide his career.
"I didn't want to be with a general contractor. I liked the specialized contracting. I got to look at a set of plans and figure out exactly what was going to need to happen and the best way to get it done, pleasing the customer and also helping Western. I got to go on-site. It was really interesting," said Woolard.
Most recently in 2019, Western’s executive leadership team launched a pilot program that takes an innovative approach to training and guiding new employees for leadership positions at the company’s 30 nationwide branches. The Training Hub Program, which graduated a dozen participants in 2020 and eight in 2021, requires that new hires spend six months fully immersed in Western’s culture and processes. Participants in the program are all graduated college seniors who have participated in Western’s College Internship Program and will be hired to work at one of Western’s branch offices.
Program participants receive six months of training, broken down into three months of rotational learning opportunities at each of Western’s home office departments in St. Louis where they learn about methods/procedures, policies and key business processes/programs to support operations across the country; and the final three months at the branch they will be employed at. Participants learn about each of Western’s trades and about creating job estimates and proposals, billing for jobs, life cycle processes beginning with marketing, and point of sale through closure of a project.
Western provides participants with temporary living arrangements and all expenses paid while enrolled in the program.
Zach Taylor, a graduate of the program, was hired as a Sales/Project Manager at Western’s Houston, TX branch. He praises the program for guiding his career in construction.
“During my time at Western’s Training Hub Program in St. Louis, I obtained invaluable knowledge and new skills to add to my resumé. I worked with great teams at the home office as well as the Concrete, Masonry and Roofing branches. This experience was very humbling, exciting and a great opportunity to further my career development not only at Western as a Sales/Project Manager, but in building new skillsets as a person,” said Taylor.
For more information about career opportunities at Western Specialty Contractors, visit https://www.westernspecialtycontractors.com/careers/.