Category: Employment and Labor Market

Women in Construction

When more residents thrive, communities thrive.

Talent is essential for growth and competitiveness. When the potential of women is not fully harnessed, companies and communities lose out on skills, ideas, and perspectives that are critical for addressing challenges and maximizing new opportunities.

This reality is proving especially true in the construction sector for the greater Triangle industry, and communities are responding in innovative ways.

The Innovation

By tackling gender inequality, the Triangle region of North Carolina has the opportunity to go from good to great. According to a 2016 report from the McKinsey Global Institute, three key levers for our focus include:

  • Reducing barriers to women’s labor-force participation
  • Narrowing the gap between men and women on part-time and full-time work
  • Changing the sector mix of women’s employment

Working with a host of community partners from the for-profit, public, and not-for-profit sectors, Central Carolina Community College is responding to the construction industry’s scramble to find workers by recruiting women into construction trade training programs. The effort starts early – at middle school – and it is persistent. As a result, women make up about 30 percent of the dozens of young and second-career students being trained in the different construction trades: carpentry, masonry, and safety certifications, among others.

The Promise

Nationally, only about 9 percent of the construction industry is made up of women, while the North Carolina Department of Commerce estimated our state’s number at 4 percent in 2017.

Few regions of the state are growing as quickly as the Triangle, but construction will continue to expand in almost every corner of the state. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, nationally, construction is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2019 and another 3 percent in 2020. That includes an additional $50 billion in construction spending, with 323,000 new jobs – a number that could grow to almost 2 million by 2021.

As such, given North Carolina’s currently tight job market, there will inevitably be significant openings. A recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America reveals that 76 percent of North Carolina contractors reported difficulty filling hourly craft positions.

In 2017, there were only 5.8 jobseekers per job opening in the construction field.

Women who fill job openings in construction will see relatively higher pay. The average pay for construction jobs is better and more equal across genders compared to many other industries. Across all industries and markets, women in the U.S earn an average of 81.1 percent of what their male counterparts make. In the construction industry, the gender pay gap is much lower: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women in construction earn an average of 95.7 percent of what men make.

Education and Skills for Tomorrow: Is Your Workforce “Future Ready”?

Earlier this month my colleague, Dave Brown, published a blog hinting that we, at ncIMPACT, are working on a Future Ready Communities Dashboard. Our current series of blog posts focuses on “What it means to be a Future Ready Community.”

Future Ready Communities will be successful because of their vibrancy, their interconnectedness, and their fluid structures for causing positive human collisions. They will be built on and for great ideas. These communities will lead based on their brain trust, and they will in turn become a magnet, attracting other good minds. The relational effect is clear: Good minds make a community great, and great communities attract good minds.

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Opioid Epidemic Ignores Boundaries in North Carolina

At its recent NC Rural Assembly titled “Claiming Our Future,” the NC Rural Center offered an important discussion on the opioid epidemic in North Carolina. Introduced by Dr. Anu Rao-Patel from Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, the session began with sobering statistics — including the fact that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in NC (ahead of vehicular crashes). According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, the cost of unintentional opioid related overdose deaths in NC totaled $1.3 billion in 2015. Continue reading

Our Future Workforce: The Rise of the Individual

This is the fourth and final in a blog series on drivers of change for Our Future Workforce. The other three posts focus on demographics, automation, and business model changes. Our next series will use case studies to offer insights into local and regional efforts in North Carolina seeking to respond to these drivers. Please offer suggestions for case studies here

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Our Future Workforce: The Rise of New Business Models

This is the third in a blog series on the drivers of rapid and profound changes in who will work and where, when, and how work will be done in the coming years. The first in the series focuses on demographic drivers and the second on automation.

Dramatic industry model changes are forcing companies to reactively reposition their business models or face failure. Take the following example: Black Friday is dead. This was the early, and erroneous, call by bored local news beat reporters as they stood in empty parking spaces outside stores or pointed to people leaving malls with no purchases in hand the day after Thanksgiving. For some retailers, the news coverage may foretell a death sentence, but not for all. Retailers that continue to thrive will do so because they are agile enough to respond to the reality that the reporters missed the point. Black Friday is not dead. Black Friday has moved! Continue reading

Our Future Workforce: Driven by Technological Disruptions

This is the second in a blog series on drivers of rapid and profound changes in who will work and where, when, and how work will be done in the coming years. The first post on Our Future Workforce can be found here.

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Our Future Workforce: Demographic Drivers

The nature of work is changing rapidly and dramatically. How we prepare for the who, when, where, and how work is done will challenge our state’s leaders and the institutions that support our workforce. To fully understand what lies before us, we must first examine the scale of the drivers of change. Our research at ncIMPACT suggests there are four primary drivers: demographics, disruptive technologies, new business models, and the rise of the individual. This blog post focuses on the first of these, and highlights some important demographic changes in North Carolina.

North Carolina is growing. But according to demographic analysis by our friends at Carolina Demography, much of this growth follows a trend of clustering in the state’s existing population centers, and will continue to do so over the next two decades. As people increasingly reside in those areas, strong job growth tends to concentrate there, too.

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What You Told Us in the ncIMPACT Planning Survey

We launched ncIMPACT in 2017 to help public officials in North Carolina navigate critical policy challenges across a wide range of topics, including health, education, economic development, criminal justice, public finance, and the environment. As we planned this new initiative, we wanted to hear from practitioners and other citizens about the most vexing policy issues in their community and in the state as a whole, and what we could do to help. As such, in January 2017 we drafted an online survey and distributed it with the assistance of various peer associations and a targeted Twitter campaign. Over the course of two months, we received 154 responses to our survey. Please read on for an analysis of our results. Continue reading


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