Construction Industry Craft Training

RT-231 Topic Summary
RT 231


Supply of a younger and capable craft person has continued to vanish as the older generation retires. In order to combat this industry leaders have to work together in order to promote growth with a depleting workforce.

The main objective of the RT-231 team was to quantify the business case for craft training. They found that, although present, more training is needed. With the lack of clear and well-defined metrics being the justification by organizations preventing them from investing in training programs. The research team also found that some companies that do conduct training are not measuring its potential effectively.

Other conclusions of the health of craft training efforts in the United States and Canada are:

  • Significant benefits to craft training can be achieved through a sufficient sole project effort.
  • Offering meaningful training can help attract and retain craft workers to one’s company and to the industry.
  • Craft training is where safety was years ago.
  • Most companies do not measure the effectiveness of craft training but it can be done.
  • Owners are paying for training on union projects but rarely pay for traning on open shop projects.
  • The benefits to traning do not occur at once.


Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Investments in Training Yields Returns

“The team concludes that each dollar invested in craft training can yield $1.30 to $3.00 in benefits.”
Reference: (RS231-1)

2 : Training Has Resistance

Number of factors for training resistance that would lead to a future supply of adequate craft:

  1. Reluctance to lose a bid due to added training cost
  2. Reluctance to train and then possibly lose trained craft workers to competitors
  3. Reluctance to invest in unproven training programs
  4. Reluctance to address the general need for training, since craft workers can be attracted from competitors
  5. Lack of employee acceptance of formal training programs
  6. Lack of ability to quantify the improved productivity and other benefits that can be realized through training
Reference: (RS231-1)

3 : Data Documents Training Benefits

Organizations are not measuring craft training effectively using data they already collect. But the benefits of craft training can be seen in the data of: (RS231-1, p. 6)

  • Absenteeism rate: the rate of occurrence of absence from work or duty
  • Turnover rate: the rate of the number of craft workers hired by a company/project to replace those who have left voluntarily in a given period of time
  • OSHA recordable rate: the rate, per 100 craft workers, of the number of times per year a craft worker received treatment beyond basic first aid for an a occupational injury or illness
  • Rework rate: the amount of rework, waste and off-quality product produced during a project or within a company during a given period of time
  • Labor productivity rate: the amount of craft hours used to complete a given quantity of work
Reference: (RS231-1)

4 : Training Investment Quantified

Survey results indicated that training pays off when the employer/project invests one percent of the total project budget for wages/labor on training under two scenarios: 1) a 24-month capital project and 2) an ongoing maintenance/small capital contract. (RS231-1, pp. 12-13)
Reference: (RS231-1)

5 : Training Can Impact Recruitment

The lack of new craft entering the field is a major concern. An attractive business case is needed in order to effectively recruit new workers. (RS231-1, p. 21)
Reference: (RS231-1)

6 : Community Approach to Training Increases Impact

RT-231 found that although difficult to model, a community approach to craft workforce training through partnerships between industrial owners, contractors and their organizations, as opposed to craft who are involved in a single project training effort, would produce significant benefits. By continuously receiving training in this fashion they can achieve maximum performance as well as maximize benefits on other community projects.
Reference: (RS231-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #1

RS231-1, Training Best Practices Checklists

Checklists have been provided (owner, employer, trainee, and journeyman) to serve multiple purposes but most notably, they help each stakeholder achieve an optimal learning environment for improved project performance (RS231-1, p. 30)

Reference: (RS231-1)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved productivity, reduced turnover & absenteeism, reduced rework, Improved quality

Research Publications

Construction Industry Craft Training in the United States and Canada - RR231-11

Publication Date: 11/2007 Type: Research Report Pages: 217 Status: Reference

Construction Industry Craft Training in the United States and Canada - RS231-1

Publication Date: 08/2007 Type: Research Summary Pages: 36 Status: Tool

Presentations from CII Events

Plenary Session - Construction Craft Training

Publication Date: 07/2007 Presenter: Number of Slides: 15 Event Code: AC07

Implementation Session - Construction Craft Training

Publication Date: 07/2007 Presenter: Number of Slides: 36 Event Code: AC07