The construction industry has an established history of research focusing on project design, planning and execution. While this work has advanced and improved the industry, in recent years the role of the craft professional has emerged as another topic of study. This type of research blends traditional construction research methods with human research methods from the social sciences.
This area of research can have a major influence on the business of construction. It provides a great opportunity to improve company performance and change the lives of individuals across the industry. It can also help show industry leaders and decision makers where we are, where we're going and what threats or opportunities there may be out there.
At the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), we believe research is important enough to include in our name. The research our organization conducts helps guide us in our mission to develop a safe, productive and sustainable workforce.
Here are some of the ways research provides benefits for the construction industry.
Research helps set industry benchmarks
Basic research is important to set year-to-year data benchmarks for the construction industry. Some examples of these types of numbers include the amount of active construction companies, the number of people employed by the industry and the monetary value of the projects being worked on.
Having these basic facts available for reference helps us understand the size and scale of the industry as it currently stands. It’s also useful to compare data to previous years. By having the same data recorded for multiple years, you can discover trends and make predictions. Is the industry growing, or is it downsizing? What are some events on the timeline that may be affecting those figures? What can we expect future years to look like, and how can we best prepare for them?
Research helps the industry understand the workforce shortage
It’s no secret the construction industry has long been facing a shortage of skilled professionals. Doing research and gathering relevant information about the causes of the skills gap and the resulting symptoms helps us understand the situation and develop appropriate solutions.
One example of a revealing statistic is the average age of a construction craft professional. The average construction worker is 42.9 years old, compared to the average age of a U.S. citizen of 38.5 years old. This indicates that most craft professionals tend to be older – with many nearing retirement age – and there are not enough younger entrants into the industry to offset or balance this aging workforce.
The workforce shortage is a complex issue with numerous factors. Research helps to outline those factors, and analysis can provide prescriptions for efforts to make a difference.
Research helps the industry with recruiting and marketing
While research can reveal some areas of needed improvement, it can also showcase the ways the industry is succeeding and excelling. In the ongoing efforts to recruit new talent into the skilled trades, it can be effective to highlight these positive statistics.
In a recent study, NCCER found the average base salaries for construction careers continues to rise. Research also indicates that people working in the construction industry have a higher rate of job satisfaction than other industries do.
Data like this can be used in marketing efforts by construction companies and training organizations to attract individuals to the industry. Combining anecdotal or testimonial content about the benefits of working in construction with true research that backs up those statements creates a more well-rounded and persuasive campaign.
Construction research from NCCER
How can research and data benefit your construction business?
Visit NCCER’s research page to check out our studies and analysis about the construction industry, workforce development and construction education.