Problems in the Construction Industry

It is quite obvious that the Construction industry is one of the most important industries in the world. Because of construction, we all live in homes, apartments, condominiums, and other living places that were created by construction. Most jobs are in buildings, which were also created by construction. Basically, the entire structural part of society was created by hard working construction workers. To give you a general idea of why the Construction industry is so important as a market, the annual construction spending internationally is estimated to be $2. 3 trillion of which $1.

2 trillion was spent in the US alone in 2006 and 2007. The construction industry does not consist of just ditch digging and roofing and only labor jobs, but also has many scientific parts such as structural engineering, electrical work, and other design careers. That being said, there are still many problems faced in the construction industry. (Russell, Seasonality in construction) Some of them include: Lack of training and experience, immigrant workers, Global Climate Change, Aging Infrastructure, shrinkage in the workforce and a decline in Construction productivity.

Shrinking workforce This graph shows the results of a survey of 826 employers asking how much education they had received. For the non design and structural engineering jobs, experience is valued more than a college degree. This is because a specific worker would have one specific trade. Some examples would be roofing, framing, heavy equipment operator etc (Castaneda, Workers Skills). The more experienced the worker is, the more valued he or she is.

The chart to the left shows the percentages of the construction workforce that each position makes up. 70% make up craftsmen, or those who have a focus on one aspect that they have mastered in the industry. Charts from (Castaneda, Workers Skills) Position and average number of years experience: * Apprentice/helper 6 * Craftsmen 16 * Foremen 21 * General foremen 20 * Assistant superintendents and higher 24 These numbers surprised me. Why does a craftsman have 16 years of experience? And an apprentice has 6 years?

Those numbers seemed high so after further research I found that these numbers were so high because new workers are not going in to the field of construction. In today’s world, everyone makes it sound absolutely necessary to get a college degree. Most people think that since construction involves manual labor, only dropouts and people who didn’t go to college should work it. Why would you get a college degree and go into a field of work that you do not need a degree in? That would make college a waste of time and money.

When asked about the lack of workers in the industry, Tom Mangan, who is a foreman to a custom home building company in Charleston responded, “The kids that get out of college think that they are entitled to be making six figures a few years out of college, they need to have a reality check and realize that the only way that could happen is with experience. ” He also told me that their average worker had been working with them for 10 years. “That makes the construction industry a career, not a job” (Mangan, Personal Interview). Illegal Immigrant workers A large contributor to the construction industry workforce is foreign immigrants.

They make up almost a fourth of the labor force in construction. According to the US Census Bureau, in March 2006, almost 24 percent of all construction workers in the United States of America were foreign born. The majority of these immigrant construction workers are Hispanic. Also many U. S. -born Hispanics work in the construction industry. This is not the problem though. Immigration is legal when done correctly. The problem lies in the illegal immigrants who are here illegally. Not only is that illegal, but some people take advantage of their illegal status.

They will pay the illegal immigrants under the table and under minimum wage. This gives the company a chance to evade taxes and allows the illegal immigrants to stay under the radar. In an interview, I asked Guy Artigues, a local landscaping/construction company owner, what he has experienced with illegal immigrant workers, to which he replied, “Well, there are a lot of unhonest men out there who would do anything just to make a few extra bucks, I do a background check on everyone of our workers which takes care of that for the most part” (Artigues, Personal Interview).

He went on to tell me that he was blessed to be in the position he was in because at one point his main competition was taken down by the government by condoning illegal immigrant laborers. Global Climate Change According to a Global Warming survey conducted in 2006, 35 percent of Americans believe that global warming is the most important environmental issue we face. That is a 24 percent rise since 2003 when only 11 percent agreed. In just the United States alone, buildings, including homes, office buildings etc. , make up 39 percent of total energy use in our country.

Those same buildings use 68 percent of our nation’s electricity consumption. As if that is not enough, those same buildings release 38 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions, which is the believed to be the main cause of global warming. So because of our development as a human race, we are coming close to exceeding the limits of our beloved planet and because of that, many believe, we are destroying ourselves by creating more pollution. The irony is that with the pollution comes jobs, homes, national defense. So the more that we develop as a society, the more harmful it becomes to our planet.

That being said, the people of our nation demand that those buildings be replaced and or renovated in order to create a more “green” environment. (Zeiss, Between the Poles) One example of how they plan to change the buildings is making them carbon neutral. This means making them release little to no carbon dioxide while still being able to create a large revenue and not hurt the businesses. Some hopeful global warming believers who support the changes and renovations in the buildings believe that it is possible to create carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030.

For that to happen, it would require new methods and approaches in building designs and how they would renovate existing buildings. One prime example of a group who sets the standards for the new construction is LEED. LEED stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is considered a Green Building rating system and it was developed by the USGBC, the U. S. Green Building Council, and it created a new list of standards so that new construction will be more environmentally friendly. LEED, which was created in 1998 contributed in over 14,000 projects in 50 states in the US and over 30 countries first 10 years of its existence.

Though this is nowhere near successfully creating a society containing only green buildings, it is a great start. Aging infrastructure Infrastructure is pretty much the underlying groundwork and foundation of any society. We use it every day and do not even think twice about it. Infrastructure includes: * Roads * Bridges * Water supply * Sewers * Electrical grids * Telecommunications The ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers, creates a report on a grade for the American infrastructure.

In 2003, the ASCE graded a sector with the grade of D+. Only two years later, that same sector received a grade of D. D is the lowest grade that the ASCE uses and still passes (Zeiss, Between the Poles). Though this is only one sector, it goes to show you that American infrastructure is not as good as it once was. Here are some facts to support why most of the American infrastructure needs to be rebuilt or replaced: * The ASCE estimates traffic costs the US economy $67. 5 billion annually in lost productivity and wasted fuel.

* The Federal Highway Administration reports that outdated and substandard road and bridge design, pavement conditions, and safety features are factors in 30% of all fatal highway accidents. * In the US on average, there are more than 43,000 fatalities every year. The ASCE also reports that motor vehicle crashes cost U. S. citizens $230 billion per year * $819 for each resident for medical costs; lost productivity; travel delay; and workplace, insurance and legal costs. * The ASCE estimates that it would cost the government $1. 6 trillion over five years to bring US infrastructure to good condition.

(Zeiss, Between the Poles) Works Cited Artigues, Guy. Personal Interview. 09 November 2012 Construction Recovery Still 3 Years Away. (2011). Metal Center News, 51(12), 40-43. Castaneda, J. A. , Tucker, R. L. , & Haas, C. T. (2005). Workers’ Skills and Receptiveness to Operate Under the Tier II Construction Management Strategy. Journal Of Construction Engineering & Management, 131(7), 799-807. doi:10. 1061/(ASCE)0733-9364(2005)131:7(799) Foster, H. G. , & Strauss, G. (1972). Labor Problems in Construction: A Review. Industrial Relations, 11(3), 289-313. Mangan, Tom.

Personal interview. 10 November 2012. Nissen, B. , Angee, A. , & Weinstein, M. (2008). Immigrant Construction Workers and Health and Safety. Labor Studies Journal, 33(1), 48-62. Russell, J. L. , & Pilot, M. J. (1969). Seasonality in construction: a continuing problem. Monthly Labor Review, 92(12), 3. (Russell, Seasonality in construction) Zeiss, G. (2007, September 5). Between the Poles: Worldwide Challenges Facing the Construction Industry. Between the Poles. Retrieved November 14, 2012, from http://geospatial. blogs. com/geospatial/2007/09/convergence. html