Inter-Change

JOE MILLIONAIRE

 Joe Millionaire Should Keep His Day Job

(ARA) - One of the most talked about television shows these days is "Joe Millionaire." Twenty women compete for the affections of Evan Walsh, who they believe is the heir to a $50 million fortune. The catch -- Walsh is really a construction worker who is merely playing the part of a wealthy bachelor. Once he chooses his perfect match, the woman will discover that her Prince Charming really earns $19,000 a year operating a backhoe.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, a lot actually. But for Dennis Day, executive director of public affairs for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the biggest controversy is the misconception that construction industry jobs don't pay well. "The average hourly wage in our industry is $17.80," he says. "That translates to a lot more than $19,000 a year for someone working full-time."

The construction industry offers a variety of career options from skilled laborer to CEO. In the United States, the industry provides employment to an increasingly diverse workforce of more than 7.9 million people.

For instance, women are playing a bigger role in the industry, as exemplified by the women of Messer Construction in Cincinnati. Currently, the company boasts 11 women at the project management level and 13 women on its craft force. In 1998, the company formed Messer Women in Management, a group that provides support, encouragement, mentoring and resources; celebrate achievements; and facilitates open communication among women at the company.

"It has been exciting to see the success of women in every segment of our company," says Kathleen Daley, senior vice president and chief financial officer. "Women at Messer fill many nontraditional roles, such as corporate safety director, craft labor coordinator and project executive.

"The construction industry is not only good for individuals, but also good for the country," notes Day. "It accounts for nearly 8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product." Even in today's uncertain economy, housing construction starts are holding strong. The Commerce Department reported in January that construction activity climbed to an annual rate of 1.84 million units in December 2002.

Construction projects create roads, airports, buildings and other structures that improve productivity and quality of life. "Our industry builds office space, entertainment venues and homes, places where people spend their days and live their lives," says Day.

For more information on the opportunities available in the construction industry, visit the AGC Web site at www.agc.org.

Courtesy of ARA Content