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Let's work together to develop
a new generation of skilled workers
for the building industry

Collaboratively Developing

a New Workforce

for the Building Industry

The Skilled Worker Shortage and

the Training Needed to Attract and Educate

the Next Generation of Building Professionals

The Shortage of Skilled Labor Impacts Both Commercial and Residential Construction in the U.S.

The Q1 2020 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index Report summarizes the difficulties contractors face finding workers with adequate skill levels in the U.S as a whole and by region. Some of the reports key findings in this area are summarized in the charts below.

Contractors With High Levels of Concern about Adequate Worker Skill Levels
Overall - 49%
Midwest - 55%
South - 52%
West - 47%
Northeast - 28%
Overall Contractor Difficulty Finding Skilled Workers - U.S. Average
At least moderately difficult 92%
Very difficult - 55%
Moderately - 37%
Contractors With Significant Difficulties Finding Skilled Workers by Region
South - 60%
Midwest - 57%
Northeast - 24%

In this report, more than one-third of contractors reported turning down work while most contractors reported that skilled worker shortages impact their ability to meet schedule requirements and lead them to put in higher bids. This is particularly important when it comes to trade contractors where 59% turn down work opportunities due to skilled labor shortages vs. 25% for general contractors.

While the USG + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Report looks specifically at commercial construction, the needs for qualified, skilled workers in the residential housing segment is just as concerning. The February 27, 2020 Freddie Mac INSIGHT report concludes that 29 states currently have a housing deficit totaling 3.3 million units. Remarks made by Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman on January 16, 2020 at the 2020 Economic Forecast Breakfast focused on this shortage. She confirmed that construction industry employers throughout the country find that “it’s extremely difficult to find and hire workers, skilled or otherwise“.

An Innovative Training Solution is Needed

Developing a skilled workforce is critical to both commercial and residential construction. The industry needs a new educational program that attracts potential workers, encourages them to choose construction as a career, and gives them the skills necessary to succeed in the real world. This is exactly where BuildingXperience fits in.

The BuildingXperience program will attract young talent with its innovative approach and it will provide people with the skills they need to be successful in these critical areas:

  • Product knowledge
  • Installation / application skills
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • General building industry knowledge

With the mastery of these areas, students will be well prepared to make significant contributions to the building industry as the next generation of building professionals.

BuildingXperience is different from any previous training program and it will set new standards for industry wide training programs. In addition to teaching the skills required for success on the job site, it will help the building industry with two major issues it faces:

  • How do you attract a new workforce?
  • Once you have attracted a new workforce, how do you teach the skills needed in a compelling way?

Understanding

the Next Generation

of Building Professionals

A Generation With Few Vocational Skills Training Opportunities in K-12

There was a time when pursuing a career in the building industry seemed like a very reasonable decision. Schools taught basic vocational skills that made the tools utilized in the building industry somewhat familiar and the skills learned in classes could translate into into jobs in industry.

  • In kindergarten many schools had simple woodworking supplies and hand tools like saws and hammers that children could use to make things and explore their creativity.
  • Junior high schools had “shop” programs where students learned basic woodworking, metal metal fabrication, electronics, etc. and they experienced the satisfaction that comes from “building” something with their own hands.
  • In high school there were opportunities for students to learn about and prepare for careers in vocational trades.

With the exposure to these programs, the thought of a career in the building industry where one could be part of a team that constructs the places people live, shop, work and play seemed like a reasonable prospect to many.

Unfortunately, for the building industry, and for many students that didn’t benefit from this shift, these programs were pulled from many K-12 schools in favor of focusing on a curriculum that would help students pass standardized tests and prepare for higher education opportunities.

As a result of the shift in the educational programs (primarily in junior high and high schools), there has been a significant decline in students with basic vocational training that would easily translate to success on construction job sites.

It is important to note that while some states have begun to implement vocational programs back into their public high schools, the lack of these programs has had a significant effect on the jobs students consider when they look forward to their careers. It is not surprising that most young people seem to favor opportunities that require skills they are familiar with or aspire to as explained in the next section.

Heavy Users of "Screen Media"

Today, “building things” has been replaced by “preparing for standardized testing and college” in schools, and “entertainment screen media” is playing a huge role in children’s lives. In 2019 The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, more than 1,600 U.S. 8- to 18-year-olds were surveyed about their relationship with media. While all the reports findings are instructive, two areas in particular are helpful to understand when we look at creating training for the next generation of building professionals:

  • How much time do tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) and teens spend each day on screen media
  • What is the proportion of screen time devoted to various activities by age

Note: Tweens Segment does not total 100% due to rounding.

This study does not include the time students spent using devices for their schoolwork. Here are a couple of the major points that we need to address with attracting and educating a new workforce for the building industry:

  • 62% of teens are spending more than 4 hours per day using screen media and 29% are spending more than 8 hours per day
  • 85% of the time teens spend on their devices they are watching TV or videos, gaming, browsing websites or “interacting” via social media. For the younger “tweens” these activities account for 93% of their time on devices.

With the lack of building industry visibility / training in these areas, it is not surprising that with young minds occupied to such a great extent in their screen media that they do not have interest in or the technical / communication / teamwork skills to be successful in the building industry.

Note: Teens Segment does not total 100% due to rounding.

Influenced by Time Spent with Screen Media

it is instructive to see how the increasing time children spend with screen media has influenced children’s career aspirations. This is reflected in the 2017 First Choice survey of 1,000 children where more than a third of the children expressed their desire to be a YouTuber and nearly a fifth wanted to work as a blogger or vlogger. (Note that the survey allowed them to pick multiple answers so the total % is more than 100%)

Looking at this list, we see that, as expected, the experience kids have in their daily lives (most spending several hours per day using screen media), influences how they think about the career opportunities. The BuildingXperience program understands that to be successful, we “go where the audience is” if we are to train them for careers in the building industry. To win the hearts and minds of the future workforce so “building” might become one of their career aspirations, the content must be compelling, it must provide them with skills and experiences they can translate to working on building sites and it must show them how a career in the building industry can fulfill their life aspirations.

Life Aspirations

It is important to understand the aspirations of potential skilled workers for the building industry when developing a plan for reaching and training them.

Key aspirations according to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 include:

  • Traveling / seeing the world
  • Earning high salaries / being wealthy
  • Owning their own homes
  • Making positive impacts on community / society
  • Starting a family / having children

An interesting point to note is that for young workers, making a positive impact on their community / society is a major influencer. 46% of Millennials and 47% of Gen Zs indicated making a positive impact on community / society was important to them.

BuildingXperience Training

for the Next Generation

of Building Professionals

Reaching a New Workforce

BuildingXperience will reach young audiences by using the “media screens” they enjoy and use for hours every day. It will push the limits of deliverable technology to create visually compelling video content and immersive experiences that will rival the best online, console and computer games. Our teams will strive to make BuildingXperience training an activity people look forward to and one where they can feel great about telling their family and friends “what they built today” inside the immersive environment. To be successful in attracting a new workforce our training will:

  • Reach young minds in an engaging and familiar way
  • Communicate how working in the building industry aligns with students’ priorities and aspirations.
  • Be provided to students at reasonable cost (no cost from BuildingXperience)
  • Be created with the participation of the building industry
  • Leverage the technologies and young audiences of our existing partners in the technology space

Expanding the BuildingXperience Reach by Providing Our Training Program at "No Cost"

The BuildingXperience immersive training program will be provided at no cost to encourage its adoption by community colleges and training centers. It will also be made available online for others not attending formal education programs who want to learn about building, expand their current knowledge, or “retrain” for careers in the building industry.

The BuildingXperience Institute may also work with the industry to establish a certificate program for those who complete the training it that would be a further inducement for students. Additionally, we will work to encourage other organizations and foundations to provide scholarship funds for individuals who receive the training at community colleges or training centers. These funds would go directly from other organizations and foundations to training programs to help students cover some or all of the fees they would incur.

Powered by Unreal Engine

The BuildingXperience immersive training program will be powered by Unreal Engine, the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool. It is used wherever applications requiring the highest-fidelity, real-time 3D visuals are needed.

Unreal Engine will give our team the freedom and control to deliver this cutting-edge “immersive experience”. We call it “immersive” because VR headsets will be used to “transport” students to six different building sites where they will learn how to build each building from the ground up. Students will be able to “walk around” project sites, pickup and use tools, interact with other workers on the site, and they will gain “hands-on experience” installing every component of each building as they are guided by industry experts.

The BuildingXperience team already has a close relationship with Epic Games who makes Unreal Engine. Together we have showcased the world’s first 4K 60p live broadcast using Unreal Engine to power our virtual sets (see video tour of the Mars virtual set below) in StudioXperience at SIGGRAPH and the world’s first virtual set demo featuring real-time ray tracing in StudioXperience at NAB Show.

The Training Experience: An Overview

BuildingXperience training will feature thousands of video segments (see video- pre-training info below) and six different immersive learning environments. The videos will prepare students for each task they will be performing inside the immersive learning environment. Once the student is confident they understand the proper installation methods for the product, they will then use the immersive learning environment (VR) to install or apply the product. The process will be repeated for each product that is used for the building so that students will have experience with all aspects of the building process for each of the six different buildings included in the immersive environment.

This form of “real-world practice” has been validated in hundreds of studies. It creates muscle memory and it helps students retain what they learn. Think of it as a game where each building is a new adventure and each trade is a different level in the adventure.

This environment will allow students to work alone or in teams to build six different buildings from the ground up. The teams can be in the same classroom, or there could be collaboration with individuals across the country.

Video Pre-Training Will Complement Learning in the Immersive Environment

The BuildingXperience Institute will create thousands of videos for this project. These videos will help to “pre-train” students before they put on their VR headsets and “go to the job site”. These videos will be available will

  • Provide in-depth knowledge about every product that is utilized in the building process.
  • Educate students about each company that makes the tools and products they will be working with
  • Provide a vision for the industry though interviews with industry leaders
  • Help to enhance communications skills and teamwork
  • Show how each product is installed on each actual building so the student has an understand of what they need to do when they are in the immersive environment

Much of the video content will also be accessible from within the training environment so that when they are “installing” a product in the immersive environment, students can access the video showing the best practices for installing it.

We’re taking the pre-training approach based on studies which have demonstrated that pre-training leads to even better learning outcomes when combined with immersive training. Basically by learning what they need to know before going into the immersive environment, students will be more successful when they are “doing their work”.

Vendor Specific Approach

Rather than trying to make this project a “vendor neutral” program where products are generalized, BuildingXperience immersive training will allow students to learn about specific products, the companies who make the products, the specific tools that are chosen to install or apply them, and the role of each company in the industry. This approach will provide students with a far broader perspective on the building industry as a whole.

The Buildings

This immersive learning experience will provide students with in-depth product knowledge and experience building six types of buildings

Commercial

The Class A commercial building will include a large reception lobby, classrooms, a presentation theater, offices, a large sound stage, a kitchen, a café area and state-of-the-art broadcast facilities. The design will focus on impact while leveraging cost-effective building techniques. The building will be highly energy efficient and responsive to its environment.

Hospitality

The boutique hotel will feature a great guest experience. The design will allow for a natural flow from check-in, to sleeping, to bathing and to dining. Complicated steel stud framing systems, large window walls and high-end finishes will be featured in the large communal spaces.

Office

The office building will incorporate smart features including self-adjusting lighting and window shades, the ability to personalize heat and light settings for one's immediate space, circadian lighting systems that mimic natural daylight and heating and cooling systems that adjust automatically according to weather and occupancy.

Single Family Residence

The single family residence will give a nod to the past while integrating construction and building technologies that will help promote green living. This smart, connected home will help students understand the construction techniques used in many of the existing homes in the US while pushing boundaries with the newest building and systems innovations.

Multi-Family

Urbanization, demographic changes, affordability, sustainability and the digital economy are all factors that will play into the design of the multi-family housing building. The building will have a futuristic, aesthetically pleasing design, It will feature built-in wellness amenities and extensive use of new technologies to enhance sustainability.

Sustainable Cabins

While reminiscent of the cabin designs of old, the sustainable cabins will feature new building systems and will be be built with environmentally conscious products and methods. They will also integrate cutting-edge technologies that will showcase the ability of the structures to match their occupants digital lifestyle.

The BuildingXperience Team

Building Industry Leaders

A wide range of building industry leaders will support the BuildingXperience Institute. Some will play advisory roles while many will be participating with their teams to help us design their products into the buildings students will be building in the immersive training environment. Their teams will also participate in the video segments that will educate students about the specific products and how they are properly installed in each area of each building. In addition to leaders from suppliers to the building industry, we are expecting innovative civil engineering, architectural, and construction management firms to participate as well. These companies will be key contributors helping us with the design-build process and with how we translate designs and the actual building process into an immersive training curriculum.

 

Industry Associations

BuildingXperience will also collaborate with industry organizations interested in, and helpful to our efforts. We anticipate numerous areas of mutual benefit where initiatives can be mutually leveraged. 

Here’s a partial list of the organizations we feel may participate with us in our efforts to help train the next generation of building professionals:

Technology Innovators

The BuildingXperience Institute will benefit from the close relationship the founder has formed with leading technology companies over the last 25 years. We will invite many of these companies to join us in our efforts. Together, we will push the boundaries of VR and gaming technology to deliver a groundbreaking educational experience that will set new standards for immersive learning experiences.

Some of the better known companies in this group include: CanonDellEpic GamesHPIntelLenovoNvidiaNewTek, and Zero Density.

Film and Audio Production Specialists

Filmed content will play a major role in the immersive training experience. Thousands of interviews will be conducted with industry executives, project and product managers, architects, civil engineers, city and county officials, and trade association representatives just to name a few. The BuildingXperience team will excel in this area leveraging a record of “broadcast industry firsts” from events StudioXperience has attended in North America and Europe. The workflows already established, from production through final content delivery to a global audience, will give the BuildingXperience Institute a world-class production capability.

Game Developers

A critical key to our success will be the actual team members producing the immersive training experience. This team will include art, animation, design and UX directors, programming leads and a team of talented 3D artists and game developers. Through Waskul.TV and StudioXperience, we’ve been fortunate to build relationships with many creative artists and game developers who have done amazing work in these areas. We will leverage these contacts to help build an exceptional production team for BuildingXperience.

Education Experts

It is important to us that our immersive training serves a wide audience and meets the needs of educators in community colleges, training centers and high schools.  We will seek advisors from each of these areas to find ways to create our content so that the BuildingXperience immersive training program can help them in their vocational training efforts.

 

Unique Experience

Perfectly Suited

to this Mission

Proven Ability Bringing Fierce Industry Competitors Together in StudioXperience

The BuildingXperience Institute will benefit greatly from the decades of experience its founder Stephen Waskul has working with technology industry titans.

For 25 years Waskul has brought fierce competitors together for common purpose at events around the world. StudioXperience is Waskul’s state-of-the-art broadcast studio and technology showcase. It has simultaneously showcased solutions and workflows from as many as 30 industry leaders. It is significant that companies like HP, Dell, Intel, Nvidia and AMD have been featured simultaneously to audiences at these events. Typically you would not find competitors like HP and Dell working collaboratively or Intel and AMD or Nvidia and AMD. StudioXperience has had significant success working with teams from these companies and bringing them together to showcase solutions to the benefit of all.

This proven track record and ability to work with many companies, from startups to industry giants, simultaneously on large projects, for common purpose, will serve BuildingXperience well. It will lead to an immersive learning experience that truly opens up the possibilities for industry leaders to participate in a collaborative way along with smaller companies that might offer unique or cutting-edge solutions for the building industry.

Real-World Building Experience

The BuildingXperience Institute will leverage lifetimes of achievement from the industry leaders who will be acting in advisory capacities to make our immersive training experience second to none. Additionally, founder Stephen Waskul has industry experience including previously serving as President of a construction company with 150+ employees working on both large commercial and residential projects.

The Interview above shows Mr. Waskul talking with Will Plato of Hensel Phelps about Virtual Design Construction techniques. Stephen and the StudioXperience team have conducted more than 600 similar interviews as part of StudioXperience live broadcasts. Many of these interviews can be viewed on Waskul.TV. This experience will be significant in creating meaningful content for the BuildingXperience Institute programs.

Technological Advantage

The BuildingXperience immersive training program will be on the cutting-edge of technology and will set a new standard for interactive learning experiences. It will be built on the Unreal Engine platform and it will be designed to appeal to the next generation of building professionals who spend a substantial number of hours each day consuming media.

BuildingXperience will have a technical advantage in its production efforts due to the experiences gained though StudioXperience and the close relationships formed with leading technology companies over the last 25 years. These relationships will give BuildingXperience access to incredible talent and bleeding-edge production capabilities.

The video above shows the virtual set used by StudioXperience for the world’s first live 4K 60p broadcast using Unreal Engine to power virtual sets.

Passion for Education

BuildingXperience Institute programs will also benefit from our passion for our educational mission and the focus we have on creating an immersive learning experience that will have a significant positive impact on people’s lives by training them to play a successful role in the building industry.

An example of this passion is the StudioXperience Student Intern Competition. For this program we designed  a nation-wide student intern competition for college and university students studying broadcast journalism. We then partnered with the Broadcast Education Association on the program and together we brought the nation’s top students to Las Vegas to attend the National Association of Broadcasters Show where they got hands-on experience with the latest technologies working in StudioXperience as part of the Waskul.TV live broadcast team. 

Strong Focus on Finance and Project Management

BuildingXperience will benefit from our Founder’s past business experiences and the importance he places on having a internal finance and project planning teams with the experience needed to drive the successful completion of projects like the immersive learning experience. 

Stephen Waskul has a degree in business / economics from UCLA and is also a CPA. He has previously worked for Price Waterhouse in their Entrepreneurial Services Group, has stepped in for companies as an interim CEO or CFO while working as VP at a boutique strategic management firm, and he successfully ran a construction company with 150+ employees for several years. These experiences will help guide how the institute handles its business practices and the team we put together to properly handle finance and project planning.

Let's Work Together to Develop

the Next Generation

of Building Professionals

Working together, we can solve the long-standing need for skilled labor in the building industry. We will provide the industry with an educated labor force that

  • Understands the features and benefits of all the materials and products showcased in BuildingXperience
  • Has been trained how to install / apply each product in accordance with the manufacturers’ best practices and procedures
  • Understand the industry itself, and the vision industry leaders have for its future
  • Has learned teamwork and communication skills that will be important as they transition into the work force

Together, we will prepare students to step forward with confidence as they journey onto building sites across this country and gain job site experience on their way to becoming the next generation of building professionals.

Regardless of the role you or your organization plays in the industry, we welcome your help in this important mission.

There is a lot more to this plan than we can possibly outline here so please give us the opportunity to discuss how your organization can participate in, and benefit from, BuildingXperience.

Let’s meet soon to consider the possibilities and to develop a program for you or your organization that will best help you participate with us in developing the next generation of building professionals through the BuildingXperience immersive training program!

Ready to Roll?