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The headlines say it: Construction is on its way back, and in some areas of the country, it is completely back. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 290,000 construction jobs were added in 2014 – the best industry performance since 2005. Over the next decade, the U.S. Department of Labor projects the industry will add another 1.6 million jobs. Good news, right? Then why is there still concern in sectors of the construction industry and those that support it?

Ask any construction union or labor group and they will tell you the devastating loss of jobs, which occurred in the Great Recession, has left the industry with a huge void to fill. This void is even more problematic since a good portion of the workers that left are not coming back. The industry is faced with a dual dilemma – how does it entice younger workers to construction, a topic for another time, and how does it train them? Yes, there are apprenticeship programs, but are these programs addressing the impact new employees will have on a company’s total cost of risk?

Whether you are a construction contractor with several proposals in the works or an independent electrician thinking of starting your own business, understanding the necessary licenses and permits needed is vital. There are several general business licenses as well as construction-specific documents that must be obtained and renewed. Having the proper licenses will protect your business, employees and clients. Failure to file can lead to not only to missed opportunities, but also put you in a risky situation. 

Licenses are required by most businesses. The number and types of required licenses varies, depending on several factors, including where your business is located, how many employees you have and what type of business you operate. Two general licenses that will most likely apply to your company are the general business license and the workers’ compensation registration license. There are three key areas every business owner should keep in mind. 

The single biggest issue facing the construction industry is the development of its future workforce. That workforce will, by necessity, need to look very different from the workforce of the past. The construction industry has provided many people, including myself, with a fulfilling, dynamic and economically satisfying career. As a young girl, I learned about construction from my grandfather, a homebuilder, and my father, a concrete contractor and developer. Building was in my blood from a very early stage. It is imperative that those of us from the Baby Boomer generation do everything we can to reach out to young people and introduce them to the great careers in the construction industry. 

With the economy on the rebound, construction spending is picking up around the country and more construction-related businesses are taking on new projects because of increases in government spending contracts and real estate demand.

All of this signals good news for the construction industry, but immediately after a new project is awarded, a contractor must come out of pocket for materials, equipment, fuel, travel and labor – sometimes long before being paid. With most payment terms averaging between net 30 to net 90 (and government contracts upwards of net 120), managing cash flow can be tricky. 

The topic of protecting temporary workers, while not new, is one OSHA recently brought back to the forefront. The agency is taking the topic to an open forum in an attempt to underscore the importance to both staffing agencies and host employers that every worker has the right to a safe workplace. 

“An employer’s commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror this worker’s temporary status, whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels said during the Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association conference in August. “Staffing agencies and host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions.”

Today’s construction process is a team effort. Gone are the days when architects passed off their project plans to the construction team and hoped for the best. Now, more than ever, collaboration throughout the project is key to its success. Of course, collaboration is not always easy, especially between industries that have been somewhat at odds in the past. As an architect, I know that I sometimes have a very different vision of a project’s end result than the construction team may have. Our project goals may not align, and completing a project may be challenging if we have competing interests along the way. However, as our industries evolve, we can no longer afford to be at odds. To provide our clients with the best results, architects and construction managers must each learn to use our unique skill sets to our advantage, delivering results that meet and exceed high expectations. Establishing trust early on in the project, communicating clearly throughout the process and knowing how to use technology effectively and efficiently can ensure a successful relationship between architects and construction managers.

Generally, when people think of public-private partnerships (P3s), they think of large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project or the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, both in New York. These are high-cost projects led by large well-capitalized firms, so it is no wonder they command our attention. In the past, it could be safely assumed that projects of such magnitude had to be carried out by government entities, but this is no longer the case. In fact, P3s have proven effective for a wide range of project types and sizes.

Large data sets need sophisticated technological solutions that provide transparent access to files and projects on an as-needed basis. It is not uncommon to see architects and those in the field of construction work on large project files that, when sharing across networks, lose consistency and coherency, often leading to data corruption and project delays. 

Today, enterprise file-sharing is a necessity for global organizations. Technology needs to catch up with business demand, and architectural and construction firms are evaluating whether their current infrastructure is up to the job of high-performance enterprise file sharing and collaboration.

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