The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) annual convention is wrapping up at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. this week. The convention brings together more than 1,500 ABC members, chapter staff, craft competitors and college students enrolled in construction management programs with the goal of “educating and celebrating the merit shop construction industry.”

The annual event includes education sessions; a gala, where the ABC 2018 Contractor of the Year, National Safety Award winners, National Diversity Excellence Award winners and Excellence in Construction Award winners are announced; the Construction Management Competition; and the National Craft Championships.

A highlight of this year’s five-day event was the National Craft Championships (NCC), which brings craft trainees and apprentices from across the country to compete for top honors in their chosen craft.

The NCC gives competitors a chance to demonstrate their skills, training and safe work practices. For training sponsors, employers and ABC chapters, the competition demonstrates a staunch commitment to the career path the construction industry offers.

The two-day event featured 200 craft trainees from chapter and member training programs competing in 16 competitions, representing 12 crafts.

“This competition is important because it showcases what merit shop training and education is all about,” says Tim Mongeau, director of workforce development, ABC National. “It shows that ABC is creating safe, quality, skilled professionals in the trades. And one of the things that is so critical about this is the fact that we are demonstrating that construction is a viable, family-sustaining career.”

Each NCC competition consists of a written exam, developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). The written exam accounts for 25 percent of the total score. The other 75 percent of the score comes from a six-hour, hands-on, Practical Performance Test skill test.

The 2019 competition featured tests in crafts such as HVAC, plumbing, pipefitting, sheet metal, fire sprinkler, instrumentation fitting, insulation, millwright/ industrial maintenance mechanic, welding, power line worker, carpentry: residential-commercial, electrical: commercial-industrial, and electrical: residential-commercial

For the Commercial Team Competition, four craft journey-level professionals worked as a team to complete a series of craft-specific tasks focused on electrical, plumbing, sheet metal/HVAC and carpentry in a six-hour period. Controlled copies of the craft specifications and drawings are given to teams during orientation, but no copies of these documents were allowed to leave the competition area.

For the 2019 Industrial Team Competition a three-person team of craft journey-level professionals work to complete a series of craft-specific tasks focused on electrical, pipefitting and insulation in a six-hour period. Controlled copies of the craft specifications and drawings were also given to the teams.

The NCC also featured a Drywall Demonstration, with metal stud framing and drywall participants performing hands-on tasks using commercial methods of building, and metal components in the construction of wall and window systems.

Besides the NCC, another interesting event at the ABC Convention was the Construction Management Competition, which promotes careers in construction management. Sponsored and supported by ABC members, the CMC features teams of four college and university students testing their project management, estimating, safety, quality-control and presentation skills.

The competition is designed to challenge construction knowledge, organization, time management, and presentation skills. It also gives the nation’s top construction management students a glimpse into the real world of construction, as well as an opportunity to showcase their talents.

The Construction Management Competition provides competing teams an opportunity to experience an actual project that exhibits unique characteristics and issues. Participating teams assemble a general contracting firm that will represent their school and ABC Student Chapter. Each participating team receives electronic access to a set of documents in advance of the competition. The 2019 competition focused on the selection of a general contractor for a project based on price and technical proposal.