Term Paper: Decreasing Quality in Construction

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[. . .] A study in 1997 revealed that 92% of construction firms had shortages of skilled laborers, and more than 85% of construction firms do not think their workforce is as skilled as it needs to be. "There were 6.7 million workers in our industry in 2001 and we will need an additional 1.5 million workers by 2010 just to sustain the productivity that we have today," (NBN 2004) The changing economy and negative image many students have of construction workers are two elements that have caused this shortage. Common problems that may be found on a building job site without sufficient skilled workers include the following: "water infiltration through some portion of the building structure. Cracks in foundations, floor slabs, walls, dry rotting of wood or other building materials, termite or other pest infestations, electrical and mechanical problems, plumbing leaks and back-ups, lack of appropriate sound insulation and/or fire-resistive construction between adjacent housing units, etc." (C-Risk 2001)

Crack downs on inferior manufacturing of construction materials, such as the one in China a few years ago, are important steps to take towards a quality insured construction industry. However, the lack of skilled workers may be the most serious problem facing the construction industry. There is a strong movement away from the industrial arts in high schools, and without exposure to experiences such as shop classes students are not drawn into construction. There is also a negative image of the construction worker among young people; "it is evident that today's construction worker maintains a tarnished image and the trades do not command the respect that they once held, which is steering away the youth from the profession." (Chini, et all, 1999) Putting programs in place to expose young people to construction work in a positive light and encourage them to pursue a career as skilled workers is the most important step the construction industry can be taking now to insure quality construction tomorrow. One example of such a program is the one started by the Collier Building Industry Association in Naples, FL. They have "instituted a hands-on program at a local high school that introduces students to the breadth of professional, technical and craft careers in the residential construction industry....that enables students to gain academic enrichment, practical experience, career awareness and ultimately, access to employment opportunities." (NBN 2004) Students are exposed to construction in the classroom, and also through pre-apprenticeship opportunities during the summer that can lead the student into an apprenticeship program after graduation, or engineering and technology internships for students planning for college. In Seattle, another successful program is luring students into the construction industry. According to the recruiter for the CITC vocational program there, "To be successful in this business, we must take responsibility for education and not rely on schools to produce the workers we need. Our challenge is to provide jobs for interested students, train them while they are working and bring them into the industry as a career choice." (Garrity & Olson, 1998)

The construction industry is called the backbone of the economy, and the continued success of this industry affects every member of society. Quality in construction is an important issue for everyone in the field to consider, and all possible steps must be taken to insure high standards throughout all construction projects. Poorly constructed materials for construction are one obstacle to overcome in the pursuit of quality, and all substandard manufacturing should be halted. Additionally, skilled workers are needed at a growing rate to keep the construction industry strong. Programs that recruit students into the construction field and help repair the tainted mental image many people have of dirty, rude construction workers, are vital to providing a skilled workforce to the construction of tomorrow.

Works Cited

(2003, August 19) China launches crackdown on fake, inferior construction products. People's daily Online. Retrieved February 27, 2005 from http://english.people.com.cn/200308/19/eng20030819_122575.shtml

Chini, A.R., & Brown, B.H., & Drummond, E.G. (1999, April) Journal of Construction Education. ASC Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference, California Polytechnic State University. Retrieved February 27, 2005 from http://asceditor.unl.edu/archives/1999/chini99.htm

C-Risk. (2001) Construction defect. C-Risk Consultants in Risk Management. Retrieved February 27, 2005 from http://www.c-risk.com/Construction_Risk/CR_CDs_01.htm

Garrity, K. & Olson, S. (1998, May 5) Local groups trying to bring workers into construction. The Seattle Daily jounal of Commerce. Retrieved on February 27, 2005 from http://www.djc.com/special/constequip98/10038833.htm

NBN (2004, February 9) Programs address shortages of skilled construction workers. Nation's building news Online. Retrieved February 27, 2005… [END OF PREVIEW]

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