subscribe to ENR magazine subscribe
contact us
careers industry jobs
events events
Dodge Data & Analytics
ENR Logo
Web access will be provided
as part of your subscription.

An Ecuadorian Immigrant and AGC Iowa Create a Multicultural Curriculum for Jobsite Communication

Text size: A A
[ Page 1 of 2 ]

Fernando Aveiga, a 28-year-old Ecuadorian, is improving productivity, safety and understanding at construction sites in Iowa. With degrees in economics and international development, Aveiga serves as a multicultural workforce specialist for the Master Builders of Iowa, the state chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.

Latinos make up 40% of Iowa's construction workforce, say officials with the Des Moines-based group. It hired Aveiga in 2007 to improve jobsite communication and trust.

“We were looking to the future, understanding that the future labor force will increasingly be more multicultural as traditional construction workers retire,” says MBI President and CEO Scott Norvell. “Like many other industries, we were looking for a political solution. The years passed, and nothing happened. So, we decided to begin the process ourselves.”

Aveiga and MBI developed a multilingual curriculum for improved jobsite communication. Language barriers can lead to poor performance and problems, says Aveiga, whose 25-module program addresses those concerns.

The curriculum includes “The Essential Resource for the Multicultural Crew in the Constr-uction Industry,” published in 2008, which phonetically spells out construction terms in both English and Spanish.

MBI updates the manual each year based on user feedback. The efforts led to AGC's 2009 National Diversity Award and green training grants from the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Story Construction, a 39-year-old employee-owned firm with 160 workers, began using the manual three years ago. “We tried it on a few jobsites where we thought there was no way these guys were going to embrace it,” says Story's chief operating officer, Patrick Geary. “But those guys wound up being the most active participants.”

The Ames-based company has used the training on nine projects. Twice a week, workers spend 15 to 30 minutes exchanging words and lingo in what can be described as informal “lunch-box” chats.

“There is better trust among the guys, which is reflected in their confidence and speed of work,” Geary says.

The training pairs unlikely couples in an effort to shed misconceptions. The approach creates a “third space,” specific to the jobsite, with a new bi-lingual language.


[ Page 1 of 2 ]
----- Advertising -----
  Blogs: ENR Staff   Blogs: Other Voices  
Critical Path: ENR's editors and bloggers deliver their insights, opinions, cool-headed analysis and hot-headed rantings
Project Leads/Pulse

Gives readers a glimpse of who is planning and constructing some of the largest projects throughout the U.S. Much information for pulse is derived from McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

For more information on a project in Pulse that has a DR#, or for general information on Dodge products and services, please visit our Website at

Information is provided on construction projects in following stages in each issue of ENR: Planning, Contracts/Bids/Proposals and Bid/Proposal Dates.

View all Project Leads/Pulse »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.