OSBCTC Conference Stresses Recruitment Of Next Generation Of Workers

The Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council hosted a conference for building trades leaders from across the state to discuss the 21st-century workforce for its affiliated union trades.

The event, held June 22 at the IBEW Local 683 Union Hall in Columbus, brought together leaders of regional building trades councils, business managers, business representatives, organizers and JATC training coordinators to listen to featured speakers and participate in other sessions. 

Russ Ormiston, Associate Professor at Allegheny College, was the keynote speaker and discussed how demographics and labor statistics relate to successful member recruitment in today’s tight labor market.

OSBCTC Secretary-Treasurer and event moderator Mike Knisley said Ormiston’s presentation painted a daunting picture of the market based on the number of journeymen expected to retire. Knisley though, felt the insight provided could help Locals use demographics and labor statistics to their advantage.

Overall, he was pleased with the event, particularly in the attendees’ participation.

“We want our Locals and JATCs to evolve, be more open-minded, conduct self-assessments and remove barriers that prevent young people from applying,” he said.

Other speakers included ACT Ohio Chief Legal Counsel Rob Dorans, Esq., Kitty French,  Communications and Marketing Director for ACT Ohio, and Leland Bass, Director of Apprenticeship Services for the Columbus Urban League. 

The conference also featured a roundtable discussion on apprentice readiness and building trades initiatives with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Featured panelists included Kelly Harrop from the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Keith Laschinger from Cleveland Builds and Dawn Christen from the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council.

Panelists explained how their apprenticeship readiness programs operate and talked about the successes and challenges they faced.

For several years, the OSBCTC has hosted an annual educational conference but focused on different topics. Recruitment proved to be a particularly timely topic for this year, especially coming out of the pandemic, Knisley said. 

“I’ve been watching this issue for a number of years. The pandemic brought it to the forefront,” he said.

A number of project owners, including Intel, are now seeking many of the changes explored at the conference, he added. 

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