Document Detail

Title: RR137-11 - An Analysis of Multiskilled Labor Strategies in Construction
Publication Date: 6/1/1998
Product Type: Research Report
Status: Reference
Pages: 286
Burleson, Univ. of Texas at Austin
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The adequate supply of trained craft/trade workers and improved project cost performance are the most critical issues facing the construction industry today. All over the United States, contractors report difficulty in staffing projects with enough adequately trained, skilled workers to deliver construction services in a cost effective manner. The single-skilled labor strategy currently used by the construction industry is inefficient and may diminish the beneficial impact of many industry innovations. Advancements in computer aided management tools have increased our understanding of work processes and improved managerial decision capabilities, but they have not altered the way work is organized or performed in the field. Advancements in technology applications have improved the accuracy, efficiency, and safety of many field tasks, but have not delivered overall productivity/cost savings to warrant their widespread implementation. This research directly addresses the paradigm of the "single-skilled" craft worker that is prevalent throughout the unionized and non-unionized sectors of the U.S. construction industry. An analysis model is developed to measure the project performance impact of alternative labor utilization strategies. The economic model is used to analyze the impact of four distinct multiskill strategies on the construction of a S70 million petrochemical processing facility. Project benefits identified in this research which provide reductions in total labor costs include: reduced direct wages; improved project safety performance; reduced worker recruiting, screening, and orientation costs; reductions in small tools and personal protective equipment expenditures; and savings on payroll taxes and insurance. Resulting potential productivity improvements are also considered. Additional benefits accruing directly to the multiskilied employee include: increased earning potential (hourly wages and annual income) increased employment duration and increased marketable skills. A review of existing literature on multiskilled labor strategies and a summary of anecdotal experiences in construction applications is also included in this research.