Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering

First Advisor

Paul M. Goodrum

Second Advisor

Keith Molenaar

Third Advisor

Matthew Hallowell

Fourth Advisor

Amy Javernick-Will

Fifth Advisor

Stephanie Vereen

Abstract

The construction industry plays a major role in the United States’ economy. Currently, and during economic expansion periods, the U.S construction industry faces a workforce shortage, primarily among highly skilled trades, for two reasons: 1) strong construction demand across multiple industry sectors; and 2) low supply levels of skilled craft workers. A primary factor for the low supply of craft workers is current workers leaving the construction industry, either for other industries or retirement. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the U.S. construction industry will be the fastest growing industry in the nation over the next decade with an estimated 1.6 million new jobs. Because of such rapid growth, 76% of construction companies in the U.S. are having difficulty finding qualified workers to fill job openings. The main objective of this dissertation was to understand construction workforce shortages and how to mitigate these shortages.

The three papers (chapters from 2 to 4) contained in the body of this dissertation contribute to an understanding of the construction labor market in the U.S., focusing on the demographics that are currently influencing craft supply and demand. The first paper employed a new metric of workforce availability, using a public data set, among construction trades and regions in the U.S. Future researchers in construction or other industries can use this metric using a different sample size to similar or differing data sets. Owners and industry leaders may use this evidence in early stages of projects to mitigate the craft shortages by applying alternative management approaches. The second paper applied a longitudinal analysis of the changes in U.S. craft workers’ satisfaction and job preferences. The findings in paper 2 will guide the industry’s future recruiting and retention strategies, which should emphasize the extrinsic nature of working in the construction industry—i.e. wages. Finally, the third paper applied a comparative analysis of the utilization of multiskilling among U.S. Hispanic and non-Hispanic construction craft workers, showing skill development amongst Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Researchers and industry leaders may use this paper to help improve the career progression among Hispanic craft workers in the United States.

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