The Tier I workforce management strategy: concept and application
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The construction industry in the United States has been plagued with shortages of skilled labor. While the problem may be alleviated at times by economic recessions, the framework behind the shortage has not changed and will continue to impact the industry if the status quo remains. The reasons behind the shortage are numerous, ranging from a poor image of the industry, to declining real wages, to a lack of adequate training opportunities, to poor work environments and the lack of a stable worker career path. A revolutionary workforce management approach is needed within the construction industry to address the underlying issues of the skilled workforce shortage while encompassing management strategies at all project levels. The Center for Construction Industry Studies (CCIS) at the University of Texas at Austin has proposed a Two-Tier Workforce Management approach. It is comprised of two workforce management strategies: Tier II, which was developed by CCIS; and Tier I, which was developed through the Construction Industry Institute (CII). Tier II is revolutionary and future oriented, designed to improve workers’ skills and productivity creating a situation where the value of the workers is increased. This increased value should lead to increased viii income for the workers, thus increasing the attractiveness of the industry to workers. The other strategy, Tier I, is designed to efficiently manage the existing workforce, regardless of its skill level. The focus is on organization, communication, and utilization of field management. Both of these strategies focus on reducing the demand for the skilled labor by improving overall productivity on the site and retaining the current workforce. This dissertation presents the concepts behind the Tier I Strategy and discusses the metrics and the procedures needed to implement this strategy. An analysis of 19 onsite project visits of industrial construction projects including surveys collected from over 900 journey-level craft workers and supervisors is also presented in order to validate the feasibility and potential of the Tier I Strategy. The Tier I Strategy can produce measurable benefits to a project in terms of reduced absenteeism and reduced turnover. It is anticipated that increased productivity will also be a result of the strategy. It is not a revolutionary strategy in itself, but the concepts and elements of the strategy will serve as building blocks for more complex and extensive structured workforce development programs in the construction industry.