By Wayne Belanger

 Wayne Belanger

In talking with construction supervisors throughout the state, there is a common frustration with the latest generation of entry-level workers. It is not unusual for a newer foreman, crew leader or supervisor to lament that the job would be completed faster and better if they just did all the work themselves. While it is easy to sympathize with the sentiment, the job of those in supervisory roles is to work through others to accomplish goals. This points to a crisis within the construction industry.

The economic downturn of the past several years caused a mass exodus of skilled workers and supervisors due to retirements and other factors. This left our industry unprepared at every level. To compound matters, national and state employment rates are at historic lows, with far more job openings than available workers.

At the same time, the need for construction services is at an all-time high. According to a Brookings Institute Study, nearly half of what will be the built environment in 2030 doesn’t exist yet. 

Most ABC of Wisconsin contractors are turning to apprenticeship to fill the skills gap at the entry-level, but what is available at the supervisory level? Employers have been promoting their best journeymen to supervisory-level positions. Often, this is a good solution because it recognizes loyal employees and allows them to move up.

There can be a problem with this approach, however. A talented skilled trades person does not necessarily make a good supervisor. With the pool of potential mentors gone, the new supervisor is often on his/her own to learn a completely new set of skills. Often the new supervisor does not know how to work with and support the next generation of entry-level employees.

Enter ABC of Wisconsin’s Construction U Management Education programs. Over the past three years, your association has been developing high-quality, proven programs to address the educational needs of construction supervisory and management teams. 


Construction U is different from other education and training programs. There is a laser-sharp focus on the construction industry. The instructors are proven peak performers at the top of their game. In addition, the programs were created with input from construction industry experts. The programs are continually evaluated and improved to ensure quality and relevance.

Starting this fall, here is the slate of available programs:

  • Project Coordinator — Six-week program developed for those who work with or assist project managers as a member of the construction management team.
  • Project Supervision — One-year program for supervisors who are responsible for project delivery. 
  • Construction Leadership — One-day program for anyone supervising others who wants to move from managing to leading their teams.
  • Emerging Leader — One-year office management level education and training for those who are “up and coming” within their company, whether they are taking on added responsibilities or are in line to acquire their company.

The Construction U programs are more than education and training. They provide participants management, supervisory and leadership skills needed to be successful in their roles. Learn more at www.abcwi.org/ConstructionU.

Wayne Belanger is the director of education for ABC of Wisconsin.