McCarthy Building Companies Inc. recently celebrated the beginning of construction on its new, multi-functional Innovation and Craft Workforce Center (ICWC) with a wall-breaking ceremony on July 22. The training facility is set to be the future home of Builders U, the firm’s existing craft workforce training program, which will serve to further career development opportunities for those in the trades and the next generation of craft workers. Through Builders U, the company will continue to expand its industry-leading craft training to the Southwest region through hands-on technical training and skill development for its current employees, trade partners, schools and workforce training programs.
From left to right: Justin Kelton, president of McCarthy’s Southwest Region; Tim Thielke, principal with DLR Group; and City of Chandler Councilmember Terry Roe. Photo credit: courtesy of McCarthy Building Companies.
The 40,000-square-foot, two-story facility will deliver economic growth to the City of Chandler, Ariz., and offer McCarthy a dedicated base for its Builders U programs that include craft training for self-perform teams, as well as prefabrication and utility-scale solar construction teams. The facility will also include office space, an equipment storage area and an outside yard featuring a BBQ /dining area for team-building events.
Builders U will serve approximately 500 Arizona-based and 2,000 regional craft workers. The facility will be utilized to conduct discipline-specific craft training and innovation, prefabricating and modularizing components for installation on McCarthy projects, house equipment, and provide training and teambuilding space for McCarthy’s craft-focused and specialty construction teams. The facility will also support the development of Arizona’s future construction trade workforce by supporting local Career and Technical Education (CTE) partnerships.
“Arizona and the Southwest region need more skilled trade workers to support the hundreds of construction projects being built now and in the future,” said Justin Kelton, president of McCarthy’s Southwest region. “With this new best-in-class facility that will house our Builders U training program, we are making impactful team experience spaces a reality and taking our vision for innovation to a new level. We’re also achieving the goal of extending career path opportunities to the next generation through our local partners – it’s everything we hoped it would be!”
According to Build Your Future Arizona, a project of the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation, 228,000 craft professionals will be needed in Arizona by December 2024 and craft professionals will make and average of $4,803 more annually than recent college graduates. Additionally, 41% of current craft professionals will retire by 2031 (The National Center for Construction Education and Research), and 81% of employers struggle to fill hourly craft jobs or salaried professional positions (Associated General Contractors).
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our Builders U program and the Innovation and Craft Workforce Center are coming together,” said Amber Shephard, self-perform assistant manager at McCarthy. “Our teams are thrilled to have this new home for our formal training program – they genuinely appreciate having opportunities to grow and develop their skills as well as working with individuals who are new to the industry and sharing their knowledge.”
Beginning in late 2020, McCarthy collaborated with design partner, DLR Group, to reimagine this space into a place that celebrates craft workforce development and innovation.
The interior scope of this project includes renovation of 32,000 square feet of office/training space and 8,000 square-feet of warehouse/prefabrication space. The facility design emphasizes materiality and exposed systems over high-end finishes to speak to the craft-centric nature of the building. The project will incorporate state-of-the-art technology in the Craft Hands-On Training and General Training Areas and a new industry-leading Renewable Energy Monitoring and Control Room. Demountable partitions will be utilized in the general office areas to maximize flexibility. The exterior scope includes a new building housing McCarthy’s Pipe Welding and Equipment Maintenance Operations, added parking and a refresh to the landscaping and building façade.
Construction on the ICWC began in July 2021 and the facility is expected to open in January 2022.