By: Michele Daugherty

President & CEO of Associated Builders & Contractors Northern California

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

The Legislature has adjourned for the year and Governor Brown has until this Friday to decide
on the remaining stack of bills that have arrived on his desk. If last year,
policy-wise, was considered the “Year of the Highway” with marked transportation
reforms, 2017 has clearly been regarded as the “Year of Hammer to Nail,” with
great focus and emphasis on building (or rebuilding) homes, structures and
cities across the Golden State.

ABC Northern California (ABC NorCal) represents more than 500 construction and contractor
member companies and their employees, spanning 48 counties in the state, all of
whom play a vital role in literally creating a foundation, high paying jobs and
economic growth in our communities. As our organization commemorates “Careers
in Construction Month” during October, we take a moment to tip our hats to the
hard hats who really make this possible: the hard-working men and women
construction professionals who demonstrate amazing drive and enthusiasm to
serve us locally every day.

People like Louaddie Meadows, a single mother of two in Sacramento whose motivation for electrical
work came from hanging out with her father at a young age as he worked on cars.
“While most other girls were playing with dolls, I was working with wires and
walking around with tool sets.”

However, tough times set in during the few years to follow. Louaddie worked in and out of fast food,
home services and other odd jobs, admitting “It just wasn’t sticking with me”
like her passion for electrical work. Following her separation after a
seven-year marriage, Louaddie found herself and her children homeless at a
Salvation Army Shelter. It was there that she was introduced to career through
their Women’s Empowerment program, and connected with ABC NorCal, a Salvation Army
partner, which helped train her for her true passion, the electrical
profession. The first week included OSHA and skilled training, followed by
another week of interview and resume prep, culminating in a third week
graduation and face-to-face interviews with local contractor and construction
employers at a Salvation Army-ABC NorCal hosted Job Fair in mid-August. It was
at this Job Fair that Louaddie interviewed and was hired by Sacramento-area
contractor Royal Electric Company, where she has been working as an electrical
trainee specializing in prefab. She calls the Royal team her second family
“because they look out for you.” Her goal is to become a journeyworker “so I
can share my experience with the younger generation,” and Royal is helping to
support her continued education.

Still, as inspired as we may be with an amazing individual industry success story such as this, the
truth is that we simply need to pave the way for more “Louaddies” within our
industry to ensure our communities continue to grow with opportunities for
success. Without a doubt, California is sorely in need of skilled construction
professionals and that the state is struggling to meet the demand due to a
critical shortage of talent. Over the next three years, the demand for craft
professionals is staggering – 19,793 electricians in need, 7,525 painters,
7,103 plumbers and 97,293 general laborers.

In the construction industry, a skilled and trained workforce is necessary to complete projects
safely, on time and on budget, and ABC NorCal is doing its part to recruit,
train and prepare many for careers within the construction industry. ABC NorCal
is proud of our state and federally-approved apprenticeship program in various
trades, with more than 400 apprentices attending over 44,000 hours of schooling
each year and working over 490,000 hours in the construction industry on an
annual basis. Our program is an “open door” to anyone who wants it. Students
earn as they learn with no student loans to pay back, and offers health
benefits and a chance to build a professional network. ABC NorCal and its
members are making a difference in many lives and can do the same for others
interested in this line of work and career path.  Interested in
opportunities to “Earn, Learn and Build?” Go to www.abcnorcal.org

As we celebrate “Careers in Construction Month,” ABC NorCal is so excited about what the future
holds for the men and women seeking or working in a career within our industry
and the growth and prosperity of all of California’s communities. We look
forward to working closely with policymakers and leaders to promote a culture
that provides for a level playing field and pathways for success for people
like Louaddie, as well as an environment that allows individuals to continue to
thrive, grow and pass their gifts and ideas on to other generations. Let’s
always bear in mind – as we work to build up our neighborhoods, we must make
our first priority building up the lives and potential within.