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Building Our Future Construction Workforce in DSM USA

A Strong Construction Workforce in DSM USA

June 4, 2019

Since our founding in 1912, the Master Builders of Iowa (MBI) has been the recognized leader of the construction industry in Iowa. Driven by our mission statement to be the essential resource for improving member performance and promoting a business environment favorable to the construction industry, MBI provides its members with a comprehensive array of educational, safety, environmental, labor, legal, professional development and legislative services.    

Having just completed our largest membership-wide survey in years, we feel motivated and armed with the will to take on the challenges that lay before us. And those challenges have never been clearer. When asking our members what the top issues their company faces today, “skill-sets of workers” and “workforce development/labor shed problems” rise above all the others. It’s a resounding theme that is not confined to commercial construction, but one that we must address head on for the future of our industry.       

Facing Workforce Challenges 

The MBI membership is as strong as it’s ever been. And while it would be easy to potentially become complacent, this is not the case with MBI’s volunteer leadership. Our leadership assembled a taskforce to study how best to meet these workforce challenges. The taskforce felt that it was important to find ways by which precious reserve funds could leverage additional investment, in-kind support and participation from various parties.   

After much deliberation the taskforce concluded that the creation of a $5 million endowment to offer resources to complement construction career education and workforce recruitment into the Iowa commercial construction industry was the best way to spend the reserves.   

At our 2018 December Board meeting, the MBI Board approved this recommendation. 

MBI WORKS Endowment 

Fully operational as of this month, the Endowment is called MBI WORKS Endowment — Master Builders of Iowa Workforce Opportunities Require Knowledge and Skills Endowment — and is operating as a not-for-profit, 501c3. We even had Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg on hand to help us announce the launch at the beginning of June.         

Experts from the commercial construction industry along with other business and state partners have been carefully chosen to serve on the MBI WORKS Endowment Board of Directors. They alone will evaluate Request for Proposals (RFPs) and determine how funds from the Endowment are to be allocated.   

The MBI WORKS Endowment Board will take into consideration proposals that are focused on construction career advocacy, as well as other initiatives focused on creating interest in the commercial construction industry. This isn’t about scholarships, but instead about relationship building and partnerships that will move the needle in addressing our skills gap. The Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Education Drives our Greater Economy (EDGE) initiative aligns with what MBI is hoping to do with the Endowment: focus on improving education attainment to align with the needs of the workforce. For MBI, that means within the ever-changing construction industry, especially as technology continues to have an impact.   

The Endowment is interested in attracting in-kind support from MBI members to complement local and regional recruitment and career advocacy efforts, while also leveraging additional resources to increase exposure to construction careers. The RFP will require a partnership with an MBI member to be considered for funding.   

The MBI WORKS Endowment will develop an enduring mission focused on workforce. Also, with a structure that goes into perpetuity, this organization will now be more disciplined in its efforts to focus on workforce needs for the industry, which will continue through the good times, as well as the bad. 

The MBI WORKS Endowment Board encourages MBI-member firms and school districts and other non-profit programs to partner in developing responses to the RFP. It is our hope that through collaboration and innovative thinking, we can all work together to secure Iowa’s future commercial construction workforce. Interested parties are encouraged to fill out the RFP that can be found at mbi.build/MBIWORKS.  

We are in exciting times as an industry. It’s up to us to make a difference. I’m excited to see what MBI WORKS will do.   

Education Drives our Greater Economy (EDGE) is an initiative of Capital Crossroads: A Vision for Greater Des Moines (DSM) and the region focused on improving education attainment from early childhood learning through life-long learning. Under the leadership of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, EDGE aims to ensure that 75% of DSM working-age adults have postsecondary degrees, certificates or other credentials by 2025 that align with workforce needs.  

Chad Kleppe

Since February 2015, Chad Kleppe has worked as president and CEO of the Master Builders of Iowa. Mr. Kleppe first joined MBI in August of 2001 as the director of public affairs. He is a 1990 graduate of Iowa State University and received a Master's degree from Drake University.