Construction Work Force (Archived)

RT-028 Topic Summary
RT 028


This research study was limited to an investigation and prediction of the characteristics of the construction craft work force in the year 2000 as influenced by changes in the United States' demographic composition, economic, social, technological, organizational, managerial, and world political influences. It predicts a sharp decline in 18 year-olds entering the work force, with 12 million fewer new entrants into the labor force by the year 2000, yet this decline will be offset with a shift in the economy from products-oriented to service-oriented, lessening the competition for product-oriented workers. Also, the military announced a 30% reduction in force by 2000 and therefore more military personnel will be holding civilian roles.

The construction industry will experience job site and regional shortages because of mismatch with required tasks, skills in the wrong geographic location, lack of training for skilled tasks, immobility of craft persons, poor image, inadequate benefits, and lack of career and professional development.

Surveyed craft workers for this research were 94.85% male and 78.4% white. Most of them entered the construction industry by coincidence, and 60% enjoyed nearly all their work activities.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Work Force Shortages

The construction industry must attract 8% of new entrants per year into the work force and recruit an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 new workers per year to adequately staff job sites in the late 1990s. In order to do this, the construction industry must have a better image and seen more favorably for young people; as it is seen as dirty, non-technical, and non-professional. (SD-77, p. 10)

Reference: (SD-77)

2 : Minorities in Construction

The percentage of minorities in the labor force will continue to increase. Minorities are under utilized and under represented in the crafts and supervisory positions. Craft training programs specifically for the black and Hispanic populations are rare. (SD-77, p. 109)

Reference: (SD-77)

3 : Women in Construction

In 1991 women represented about 2% of the construction industry workforce. The percentage of women in the labor force will continue to increase. Full and effective utilization of women in construction crafts can significantly contribute to the development and maintenance of a competitive construction labor force through the year 2000. Craft training programs for women are opening across the country. Women have demonstrated the desire and ability to achieve success in the crafts. (SD-77, p. 121)
Reference: (SD-77)

4 : Education & Training

The work force lacks basic education skills and skills training. Apprenticeship training programs are now providing and will continue to provide basic education in math, reading, and writing along with craft skill training. (SD-77, p. 131)

Reference: (SD-77)

5 : Recruit & Retain

The construction industry must consolidate its efforts to recruit, induct, train, and retain construction crafts persons. Fragmented efforts of today are short-term solutions, and the industry must optimize existing programs, not develop new ones. (SD-77, p. 91)

Reference: (SD-77)

6 : Industry Uncertainty

Much of the difficulty in predicting what will occur in the construction industry is the uncertainty that exists in the industries that construction serves. Being a service-oriented business, construction depends on the needs of others and generates little new business within itself. Therefore, a look at the total economic projections for the US is necessary to gain insight into what might occur in the construction sector. (SD-77, p. 25)

Reference: (SD-77)

7 : Trends

Predicted trends in the labor workforce that affects construction:

  • Lower birth rates of the baby-bust generation cause a reduction in one of six available new entrants to the work force as compared to the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Women will make up almost two-thirds of the new labor force by 2000.
  • Minorities will provide new entrants at nearly double the current rate and will account for more than 29% of the new entrants.
  • Immigrants will represent a large share of the increase in the US population.

There is not a shortage of workers, but there is a multitude of insufficiencies which must be addressed by the industry if it is to be competitive through its workforce: low education levels, lack of needed skills, skilled people located outside of area of need, low wages, poor industry image, less mobile workforce, mismatch of skills with required tasks. (SD-77, p. 41)

Reference: (SD-77)

8 : Implementation Tool #1

SD-77, Construction Work Force Insufficiencies Negation Scheme

This scheme outlines a to monitor the conditions of the industry and prompt the industry to close the gap in skilled craft workers. This scheme is broken into four phases: (SD-77, p. 159)

  • Monitoring Phase  
  • Inquiry/Analysis Phase  (Needs Assessment)
  • Acquisition Phase Negation Schemes
  • Input to Labor Force
  • Then return to the Monitoring Phase in an ongoing effort

An overview of the basic elements of the program include:

  • Develop Industry Coordinating Council
  • Task/Skill Certification Program
  • Regional Training Centers
  • Cadre of Trainers
  • Regional Housing Centers
Reference: (SD-77)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved craft productivity, Improved predictability, Improved customer satisfaction

Research Publications

Characteristics of the Construction Craft Work Force - SD-77

Publication Date: 07/1992 Type: Source Document Pages: 237 Status: Archived Tool


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