In the first part of this blog series, we explored leveraging construction workforce reporting capabilities to track hiring initiatives of cities, agencies, and even prime contractors.
This installment continues the discussion and focuses on the features to look for in a labor compliance management system that will provide the benefits of workforce reporting – one which empowers an organization to make data-driven decisions to help build their communities.
Key Features to Look for in Workforce Reporting
It’s important to know what to look for in a workforce reporting tool. First thing’s first: do not pay for it.
An agency or prime contractor looking to track and measure its hiring goals is likely already paying for a system to streamline prevailing wage compliance. They should not have to pay additional monies to access data that they already own. The underlying problem, unfortunately, is that their current system may or may not actually allow for such a dynamic reporting capability. Make sure to find one that has this functionality.
The next feature to look for is equally important. Find a system that allows you to build your own custom reports, graphs, and dashboards to fit your specific needs. Furthermore, make sure you have the capability of filtering data by project, geographic region, ethnicity, etc. Here is a list (non-exhaustive) of basic reportable data that should be at your fingertips:
- Wages earned
- Worker craft and classification
- Employee gross pay
- Employee hours
- Worker demographics (ethnicity, gender, veteran status)
- Worker history
- Employee zip code and mapping
Lastly, find a solution that offers multiple data sets. What do we mean by this? To put it simply, not all data is created equal.
Account Data Set – Some data is best used internally. This data can only be accessed by the organization that owns the data. It includes detailed project, contractor, employee, and pay record data.
Shared Data Set – Some data you are going to want to share. And no, we don’t mean ‘shared’ in the context of what evil software corporations do when they sell your data to other companies. No – the greater purpose here is to allow agencies to collaborate on a regional basis. Using a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA), one agency might want to share specific granular data. Imagine, for example, a state Department of Transportation wanting to compare the results of their hire programs with other agencies in the state. They will also be able to choose which data they want to share, which in turn gives those other agencies a benchmark for attainable goals based off their own results.
Public Data Set –This one is pretty much self-explanatory. This data set shows only a very high-level overview of data. It’s main purpose here is to contribute to the overall scope of the impact that these hiring goals are bringing to cities, states, and the country.
The Bigger Picture
That public data set is the key. There is no better way to empower people to build better communities across the country than by making success stories of hiring programs visible to everyone. Especially in today’s current political climate, where the level of scrutiny on credible sources of information is at an all-time high, any informed decision demands accurate and tangible data to back it up. With this tool in the hands of key decision makers and policy makers alike, we can transform the data into meaningful action.
Beyond the social good that can be accomplished, there is another immediate issue that can be addressed. As most contractors and awarding agencies are finding, it is getting harder to find skilled labor for their projects. The reason? There are several – enough to have a blog of its own. Labor shortages in construction began when many workers left the industry as the recession hit a decade ago. Many found other jobs and didn’t return once construction turned around. Further adding to the fire, the number of workers entering the industry has been steadily declining, as our youth are increasingly being influenced to go the route of college education that leads to “white collar” jobs rather than manual labor. And perhaps the greatest reason: the generation of skilled construction workers that are currently building our country are “aging out”, or more eloquently put, retiring without being replaced.
This dilemma begs an understanding of a very important distinction. We will not be taking away jobs from other skilled laborers by targeting disadvantaged workers to fill voids on projects. Construction has picked up in recent years and continues to trend upward in growth. Unfortunately, the supply of skilled labor isn’t expected to increase with the demand unless we do something about it. If the past few years are any indication, this deficit will only increase the costs of construction and prolong the time it takes to complete projects. Again, most contractors can already attest to this being a common setback.
How to Contribute
The question then becomes: how do we build a mechanism that can help fill this labor gap?
The answer: we work together with the many apprenticeship and workforce programs that are already striving to provide opportunities for our most disenfranchised. We build our communities from the ground up by lending a hand to those who need help the most. And it all starts with a reporting system that provides the necessary evidence for us to recognize that we truly are making a difference.
For more information about workforce reporting tools, check out www.lcptracker.com/Infintum. You can also learn more about labor compliance systems that support this kind of reporting by visiting www.lcptracker.com.