American Society of Civil Engineers

Workers’ Skills and Receptiveness to Operate under the Tier II Construction Management Strategy

by Jorge A. Castañeda, M.ASCE, (Assoc. Analyst, Independent Proj. Analysis, 44426 Atwater Dr., Suite 100, Ashburn, VA 20147), Richard L. Tucker, F.ASCE, (Emeritus Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., The Univ. of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station Stop C1752, Austin, TX 78712), and Carl T. Haas, M.ASCE, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., The Univ. of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station Stop C1752, Austin, TX 78712)

Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 131, No. 7, July 2005, pp. 799-807, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Several diverse factors have contributed to the construction industry’s shortages of skilled workers; these factors include decreased real wages, transient nature of work, poor industry image, lack of training, and lack of a worker-oriented career path. The consequent impact of this problem on project performance has been reported with increasing frequency over the last few years. Various studies to address individual issues have resulted in limited successes. However, none of these approaches has comprehensively addressed all the issues within a single framework. A work force management strategy, referred to as Tier II, has been proposed as a comprehensive approach to address the problem. Projects executed under the Tier II strategy would utilize fewer, better-educated and skilled workers who perform craft functions and some lower-management functions and receive higher compensation, while delivering improved or comparable project results. With the participation of industry leaders, labor organizations and experienced craft workers, the strategy and its implementation metric have been developed. This paper presents results from the analysis of baseline data gathered from 20 industrial construction projects located in seven states within the United States, including surveys from over 900 workers. Descriptive analysis of the data gathered showed that the skill levels indicated in the Tier II strategy metrics are feasible and achievable and that the workers already have some Tier II skills, mainly technical skills, but opportunity for improvement is large. Also, this study discovered that the construction workers are receptive to be trained in technical and management skills and operate under specific nontraditional work force management practices that would allow full utilization of those skills. Independently from the potential impact of the Tier II strategy in the success of projects’ construction phase, the results of this paper can prove useful for refining the current strategy, devising new ones, or simply for having a better understanding of the work force in order to achieve improved construction work force management practices.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Construction management
Construction industry
Personnel management