The Impact of CPCS Training on Construction Careers

1. Introduction

We try to answer several research questions, including the following: How do gender, race, and ethnicity of CPAC trainees differ from students across the range of construction courses in other locations? What pre-course challenges do CPAC trainees have? Are the experiences in the CPAC training significantly different from the experiences of community college students, leading to different probabilities of course completion, job placement, and greater earnings in the first quarter after course completion? What strategies can the Community College partners learn from CPAC training implementation to implement courses with stronger labor market impacts?

Construction, the largest manufacturing sector, is ripe for industry transformation. This research study contributes to this conversation by examining the implementation of Community Pre-Apprentice Construction (CPAC) training for youth and adults in five neighborhoods, part of YouthBuild programs in the city of Chicago. The research compares demographic characteristics of trainees to former students in a range of Building Trades courses in the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), Workforce Development Council of Seattle, and four community colleges and a county technical and workforce development college in Rhode Island. It analyzes pre-course, post-course, and job placement metrics in the construction courses at the educational institutions, and conducts follow-up surveys with the trainees and former students.

1.1. Background of CPCS Training

CITB Construction Skills Plant (CPCS) card schemes were established in the UK to provide a major reduction in serious operating plant-related accidents to the inherent hazards of working on construction sites. This paper is intended to be a brief research note of a proposal to evaluate the career progression of CPCS cardholders within the construction industry. It is important to assess whether Constructs protestations are genuine or ill-founded; although the schemes have been very successful with nearly 300,000 cardholders at the end of 2006, there is concern about the impact CPCS has on either the careers or employability of the trainees. Additionally, upon cost, CPCS certification may determine that a larger proportion of the workforce is un-carded, leaving employers at risk of being non-compliant with the regulatory requirements for safe plating arrangements for operating construction plant. This not only leaves employers open to substantial liability but also does not enhance the image of the construction industry.

1.2. Purpose and Scope of the Study

This study is a snapshot comparison of the most important initial outcomes and therefore is valuable even without supporting qualitative responses for every graduate and community-peer, and regardless of the range or overlap of responses from any site or group. The limitations for this study include the small number of total graduates in CPCS trade apprenticeship programs, the small number of graduates in CPCS trade apprenticeship program who participated in the survey, the non-representativeness of program and job site cohorts, and the varying response rates among those that were approached. This research model can be used in subsequent years or at other construction sites. We hope that this approach will give us useful, if general, evidence of whether the Building Pathways program added long-term value for its trade apprenticeship graduates over the life of their CPCS registered apprenticeship. That is information most needed by workforce policy makers and will also be very helpful for CPCS Training Funds, construction unions, the MA Labor, Standards, and Workforce Development agencies, DOL, HUD, the Department of Transportation, and Construction Pathways supporters.

As part of our methodology in gathering information on the careers of Building Pathways graduates and their non-program community peers, we conducted two types of multilingual, short-term, face-to-face surveys on the worksite and telephone surveys for post-graduates. The unscheduled construction site job survey was prompted by learning about project activity through ongoing CPCS apprentice focus groups and many meetings with apprentice support organizations, community-based organizations, unions, contractors, workforce investment boards, and others.

The purpose of this study is to conduct a comprehensive, yet detailed, site-specific study of the Building Pathways Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program for Women and People of Color. In this study, we analyze the physical and mental well-being impacts of entering the construction industry on the women and people of color who participated in Building Pathways. The key research questions are: 1) What impact has entering Construction Careers had on participants in Building Pathways programs? 2) What were their paths into the industry? What obstacles did they encounter? 3) What factors have helped them persist despite those obstacles? 4) What would they like to see “post-program” or in future iterations?

1.3. Research Questions

To further explicate the relatively terse empirical literature and better inform the policy process, a number of additional research questions need to be addressed. These additional research questions seek to evaluate more refined measures of the trade-offs of attending postsecondary career and technical programs versus general education or apprenticeship programs and to deepen our understanding of who benefits the most from postsecondary career and technical education. Other issues addressed by researchers include: do shorter, non-degree courses of study lead to positive labor market outcomes, or are longer, degree-granting programs required? Is partial career and technical coursework better than taking no career and technical coursework at all? What are the characteristics of people or programs leading to successful outcomes? When, if ever, are alternative measures of career and technical education programs associated with different labor market outcomes? Our industry and construction labor market outcomes research examines some of these research questions in the context of construction pre-apprenticeship training.

Postsecondary career and technical programs have been promoted as a way of expanding employment opportunities and as a means to raise individual incomes through enhanced marketable skills. However, there is little definitive and direct evidence on the effectiveness of these programs or how such programs might be improved. Researchers have commonly evaluated the effect of career and technical training on labor market success by estimating the effect of completing different levels of postsecondary career and technical education and the corresponding certificates on employment and earnings. However, few studies estimate the labor market effects of specific career and technical courses. It is important to understand these differences as studies have found that not all courses of study lead to positive labor market outcomes.

2. Literature Review

A major part of the Construction Pre-apprenticeship Preparation Program is field placements. The students are placed at active construction sites with a contractor. They then demonstrate their raw talent and productivity to a potential employer as well as learn real-life construction skill sets. Of the thousands trained, about 40 percent of the graduates are from low-income zip codes. Sixty percent of graduates were paid for entry-level work in construction leading to apprenticeships and high-wage careers. For far too long, the only way to enter a career in the construction trades was through an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships have been regulated by the New York State Department of Labor and have been managed by various trade associations with labor and management participation.

Since the creation of the Construction Advancement Program in NYC in 2005, labor and management have been developing a basic skills training program for entry-level construction job seekers. The program, known as the Construction Pre-apprenticeship Preparation Program, prepares individuals who have decided they want to have a construction career. The courses/programs are designed to teach employability skills, occupational health and safety, basic construction math, and workplace culture essential to future apprenticeships and direct entries into long-term construction careers.

2.1. Overview of Construction Industry Trends

The construction industry continues to be a significant source of employment for low and medium skilled men. Construction employment alone comprises a significant percentage of overall male employment for men with no more than a high school diploma. Furthermore, the construction industry is the largest employer of immigrant men, and they frequently work in the construction trades. The construction sector is expected to continue growing, at least in the medium term, as a result of rebuilding from natural disasters, and recent government initiatives stimulating infrastructure development. Such large-scale projects will in turn require skilled construction workers. As will be discussed in more detail below, workforce shifts due to aging workers and lower immigration levels are expected to exacerbate potential labor shortages. This creates both an opportunity and a challenge for low and medium skilled men, particularly those in search of a family supportive wage. Data for construction is used extensively in the occupational literature because jobs in the sector require specialized skills and entry-level positions are relatively easy to identify.

To provide context for understanding the occupational paths of CPCS trainees, labor market indicators for construction occupations and wage trends are presented here. The skills needed for construction sector jobs are some of the most easily observed requirements for employment, as most jobs in the sector require experienced workers who have specialized skills. Changing skill requirements are easy to observe as well, both from changes in employment or in wage differentials. The changing nature of the jobs available is part of what makes construction an interesting sector for policy analysis focused on low-skilled or vulnerable populations. Furthermore, job quality in the construction industry affects quality of life through both on and off the job injuries, the stability of employment, and other factors.

2.2. Importance of Training in the Construction Sector

The construction of infrastructure and facilities is vital to the well-being of our communities and the general functioning of our society. The construction industry is an industry that requires workers with high levels of knowledge, experience, and adaptability due to the performance of their duties in often adverse conditions, the inherent risks, and the elevated number of reports on accidents and fatalities that occur annually all over the world. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, in its “Work-related Injury and Illness” report, shows that approximately 1 out of 5 work-related deaths in the United States occur in the construction sector. The high number of fatalities and injuries is related to numerous risk factors, operator-related, operation-related, machinery-related, or environment-related. Data analyses have shown that over 40% of construction accidents occur in heavy machine operation activity, placing operators at the top of the list of higher-risk employees involved in on-site construction activities.

Training programs for employees in the construction sector can improve performance, technical skills, safety culture, and thus prevent the occurrence of accidents, as well as increase employees’ motivation. The number of accidents occurring in the construction industry may be reduced by implementing training programs designed to facilitate operators’ ability to maintain control of their construction and to improve the “sensing, visualizing, and evaluating” capacity. Yet the adoption of training programs, particularly for heavy machine operators in construction, can be hampered by a lack of effective training models to enhance the competency, skill, safety, efficiency, and accuracy of these operators.

3. Methodology

The participating programs targeted low-income participants from the TANF caseload and led to a field such as construction that paid a living wage. The primary analysis for the broader study relied on data from 2,259 randomly assigned TANF participants, their associated control group members, and vital statistics data. A total of 2,264 individuals were enrolled and served, but five participants were excluded from the report’s final sample. This report draws on data collected through participant surveys, program administrative data, program instructor interviews, pre- and post-intervention surveys, to provide a closer look at the Carpentry Pathway for Careers and Scaffolding Pre-Apprenticeship Training programs and their impacts on participants.

To better understand the effects of the Construction Pathways for Careers (CPC) Intervention, we drew on pre- and post-intervention data that were part of the broader multi-site impact evaluation. The multi-site evaluation involved impact and implementation assessments at nine programs, across three grantees, operated by six different community colleges. All the programs received StEP-UP Education and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Community College Partnership Grant funding from the federal Administration for Children and Families.

3.1. Research Design

Third, we analyze differences in workers’ career trajectories based on these attributes by examining historical project records to look for differences in contract length and type of project (low-skilled vs. licensed vs. safety), wage effects over time, promotion rates and durations, union participation rates, and absenteeism rates. This will help us understand not only the immediate effect of receiving certification, but also the impacts it has on workers’ construction careers. Note that to be employed, workers must join the union for a project, so all apprentices in the program are represented by the union.

The next section presents our research design in greater detail. Our approach has three components. First, we look at the attributes of workers who received CPCS training across a number of demographic and human capital dimensions pre-training. Second, we compare the attributes of workers who received CPCS training with an otherwise similar group of workers who had expressed interest in training but did not receive it. We use a matched sample to do this, including all of the same demographic and human capital dimensions. This will allow us to get a sense of the impact CPCS training had on trainees. Intuitively, the idea is to compare the before-and-after attributes of similar workers and see what the effect of receiving certification is, and how it compares to other types of training or simply having an interest in training.

3.2. Data Collection Methods

Before any of the impacts of the CPCS project on construction careers can be determined, it is necessary to capture the entire distribution of construction career entry events experienced by CPCS graduates. Identifying and measuring this distribution is likely to be nontrivial. Almost any assumption or imputation method used will likely have to be examined by collecting primary data. Thus, the current proposal is to conduct an original data collection in the form of a survey of graduates of the CPCS project. In addition to the 15-week training component, the program includes position placement of graduated trainees. Job placement is made possible by the CPCS’s relationships with employers that are seeking employees for entry-level and career track positions. CPCS places many graduates in these jobs plus an equal number in positions that are not in the construction industry, whatever weights are used to adjust for these nonresponses to reflect the missing observations from those that may have transitioned to non-construction employment.

An original survey of the first graduates of the Construction Pipeline (CPC) was planned to assess the impact of the CPC program on construction sector careers. The CPC project is a pre-apprenticeship program that includes a 15-week training component focused on a range of construction skills enhanced by a 14-week job placement. Graduates of this project would have completed the 15-week training component but may still be in the job placement or have completed the 14-week placement. The construction job placement preferably will be in a career track position. These are positions that often require long-term construction work experience or sometimes a combination of longer-term construction experience and completion of certain required construction training. There are few 0-2 year construction careers available despite construction being a high-demand sector for low-skilled workers.

3.3. Data Analysis Techniques

The central tendency and the dispersion measure for the construction and non-construction samples were determined for the numerical and open-ended question responses. The validity of the pilot instrument was determined using correlation analysis of age and preference for paper or computer response. Validity of the pilot instrument was also determined using Mann-Whitney U test comparisons of the potential change, consistency of intent, and interpretation question responses of the population demographics. The entrepreneurial, managerial, professional, or technological category that each post-elementary school construction career choice represented were used to group career paths. Proportion of construction careers and new paths within the population were computed for the four categories of post-elementary school construction careers.

The data distribution and relationships among variables were analyzed using different statistical techniques. The Likert-scale responses in the questionnaires indicated the proportion of individuals who agreed or disagreed with particular statements. Percentages for each response in the three Likert-scale questions: potential change, consistency of intent, and interpretation were computed. Central tendencies (mode and median) and measures of dispersion (the range, the inter-quartile range, and the standard deviation) were computed for the Likert-scale question responses. Central tendencies and dispersion measures were also computed for open-ended question responses and the numerous new paths responses as well.

4. Findings

The average age of the professionals is around 28 to 32 within any of the three fields. Median experience in construction work is two to four years. Depending on the field, anywhere from 20 to about a third come out of the educational institutions that make up the majority of the CPCS training capacity. Afterwards, most of the state grads that took jobs in the state went to union employers, some worked for nonunion construction companies, and the third category consisted of public construction agencies in the commonwealth.

Key Findings: Most of the professionals were trained in the traditional fields of building construction, while a much smaller group was in the highway heavy construction category. The most striking characteristic of current CPCS training is the large share of female students and, to be more precise, women of color – more about this group appears below.

A total of 4,470 state-certified construction professionals were observed over the two years of the program between June 2004 and June 2006. The evaluation team observed 24 construction sites to perform a short survey. Surveys of CPCS grads and follow-up with employers are underway in order to address issues raised by this interim analysis. The analysis will be revisited as soon as possible using additional data from those surveys as well as from the contractor survey. At this point, however, only the first and most proximate impact of CPCS training is described. General Counsel Requires This Statement: All findings presented are interim.

4.1. Quantitative Results

Approximately three years of earnings data are available, permitting an investigation of the relationship between program participation and 1999 labor market history. Using this data, our central questions include: Does participation in CPCS increase the probability of employment in construction? Does post-program construction employment appear to be substantially higher for graduates and prior participants of CPCS than for program applicants who did not participate? Firm characteristics are similarly examined. The focus group discussions and interviews suggest that exposure to the CPCS training program, and particularly its strong connections to employers, plays a critical role in enhancing these job opportunities.

Our primary independent variable of interest, exposure to or participation in CPCS, is expected to have an increasing positive effect on the likelihood of employment in construction and unionized construction as time spent in the program increases. Independent of CPCS, all of the traditional differences in employment outcomes (age, education, employment history, prior earnings, minority status, and disadvantages) are incorporated to allow us to isolate the differences that are specifically attributable to CPCS training. The control group consists of all program applicants who submitted applications to joint pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship programs sponsored or administered by the developers in Chicago from January 1993 through June 1997, whether or not they attended any sessions. The research team expands and examines program applicant and participant files to capture information on program service dates, job history, annual earnings and wages, minority status, and identify CPCS graduates and participants. These files are then merged with UI file earnings data and historical Illinois Department of Labor Apprentice & Trainee Programs information.

4.2. Qualitative Insights

Having a significant time for basic skills support was very important for some women, as was the opportunity to work on their own and in their own space. Women also noted how the training had built on existing skills and experiences in very practical ways. For some women, the CPCS qualification was validation of a level of skills, which had previously been taken for granted. All women spoke of how important skills and knowledge transfer was, reassuring them that they would use the knowledge when they were out working, and so enhancing their levels of situational control and confidence.

The qualitative comments captured during and at the end of the CPCS testing and training courses provide a range of insights into the perceived value of these courses, as seen by those who undertook them. The insights from the concerns would suggest that if courses, such as those examined here, are to increase the presence of women in construction in meaningful ways, broader embedded action will be required. What is clear though is that, for some women, the presence of different women within the classroom space was a strength and important in its own right. There is a suggestion here that construction women may value a connection or emotional bond with others in the room, which supports their centrality in this teaching environment.

5. Discussion

High-quality pre-employment training programs have been shown to be an effective tool in addressing inequities in traditional employment occupations like construction. However, comprehensive career pathways efforts that include well-matched training, quality employment, and support services go a long way to meet the comprehensive needs of unemployed and underemployed populations. The results likewise demonstrate that maximizing connections to industry employers can lead to high employment rates among graduates, even in inequitable male-dominated industries. There are also opportunities to increase the number of training programs that serve career pathways through integrated education and training and career navigation services at the community college level. Some recommendations on the best practices can include reasonable accommodation and inclusive hiring processes set the foundation for workforce diversity in an industry and also provide a framework for new entrant success.

This study aimed to assess the employment and skill development outcomes of training an underrepresented group in non-traditional occupations in the construction sector – women. The training program offered by the Helmets to Hardhat Women and Apprenticeship Education Fund occurred in four community colleges from four Massachusetts counties. The found data presents statistical evidence that CPCS-funded training programs increase sustained full-time employment at a rate similar to other Labor and Workforce Development funded programs. A contributing factor of successful transitions to full-time employment for relevant program participants in the area of construction training included in the CPCS program funded is strong industry connections and relationships between the grant awardees and community partners, including both unions and employer organizations.

5.1. Interpretation of Findings

The evidence from focus group participants who had completed their training through CPCS could potentially be consistent with courses of their providing a relatively more substantial construction skills training. Participants are enthusiastic about the practical elements of their training but also revealed a rather more complex picture emerging from their experiences, including some elements of job coach provision from CPCS. Given the importance of personal support in helping individuals experiencing multiple or severe barriers into work, this job coach support could be an important element in the participant success stories. The qualitative interview participants did not have such positive outcomes relative to the focus group participants, however, giving a message of caution against inferring from these findings that this specialized support is guaranteed to work for everyone. Keying and intrinsic motivation were identified as the most important soft skills needed to achieve positive destinations, providing an interesting parallel with the findings from the soft skill building in other contexts. This identification of participants as willing to “do whatever it takes” once barriers to entering work are overcome is worth investigating further.

5.2. Implications for Construction Careers

A predictive model was used to execute a model that randomized study group members into treatment and counterfactual comparison groups. Administrative data on study group members were used to create analysis groups that were, by and large, similar after the creation of analysis and control groups. The average ITE finding for this low-skilled, WtW population is an increase of £1,696.15 in earnings, an average wage increase of £2.15 per hour, and a £1,331.68 decrease in welfare payments in YE2001. For employed members, the average increase in earnings is £592.02; £1,558.00 for over 75 percent of study group members engaged in employment in both contracting methods. The average weeks worked total for employed members is 27.14 weeks/1.08 years for those maintaining CPCS-related employment.

This report uses quasi-experimental methods to estimate the impact of Construction Pipeline System (CPCS) construction skills training on employment, earnings, and public benefit receipt for WtW-eligible individuals in Los Angeles County. A survey of WtW-eligible individuals engaged in CPCS-contracted training programs finds that one year after program entry, employed study group members were earning £15.47 per hour working an average of 32 hours per week. Median income averaged £1,711.83 per month or £20,546.25 annually, with female survey participants working significantly fewer hours per week and earning significantly less per hour on average than males. Median monthly income was similarly lower for women. Over a quarter of study group members reported engaging in contract, temporary, part-time, and independent contractor work since leaving their contractor or employer of record.

6. Conclusion and Recommendations

The CPCS training, utilizing multimedia and case study methods, assisted participants in building problem-solving and decision-making skills. Construction career professionals who serve in these capacities frequently face time and administrative constraints. The training program was not specifically identified as a requirement in the job descriptions used by these career professionals yet would clearly increase their effectiveness. The groups trained can have very important influences throughout the construction industry by sharing practices and by influencing project teams to undertake practices recommended by the Construction Industry Institute (CII). The employee/employer environment can become more constructive as career professionals grow professionally. Recommendations involve a continuous training, education, and communication process. These include modifications to encourage the future participation of construction lawyers and claims adjusters and establishing a communication process for training attendees. Also included are suggestions for future CPCS training, the Future Focus participants, and improvement.

This pioneering study, utilizing qualitative measures, examines the effect of the Comprehensive Performance Certification System (CPCS) program on a group of self-selected construction career professionals from the construction industry. Certain job performance priorities of the participants showed increases, with safety as the most significant impact. In addition, there was an initial positive relationship with worker absenteeism. Respondents strongly felt that they had an increased impact on the industry and that others saw them as more effective. The data also demonstrated that training had enhanced the determination, loyalty, and initiative of the participants.

6.1. Summary of Key Findings

The comprehensive analysis of CPCS has shown that it makes a positive impact on both employment and earnings. We find that participation in CPCS increases cumulative employment, quarterly earnings, and reduces the probability of not being employed. We find evidence that the females in our sample benefit more than the males from CPCS participation. We find evidence that completion of the specialized portion of the training impacts employment and earnings negatively and education positively, especially for females. We also find that higher quality instructors and students increase participation in the training and completion of the respective portions of the training program.

Construction Pathways and Career Success, or CPCS, is a nationally recognized pre-apprenticeship training program offering the Construction and Skills Trades Certificate to NYC residents, both men and women aged 18-24. This dissertation research was designed to evaluate the impact of CPCS and to understand how it is that 6-9 weeks of training can have an impact on employment, earnings, and education for such young workers, with few other channels open for change. It also explores how CPCS’s key program elements contribute to the outcomes we observe.

6.2. Recommendations for Future Research

As pre-apprenticeships and employer-based models of training expand, these program experiences provide little training in mathematics for program participants. Should current programs retain a tight construction-skills focus, expand attention to all related construction skills, or expand the training envelopes significantly to include basic literacy and other types of instruction? Alternatively, is there no reason to include basic literacy and math courses? It may also be that the specific program experiences—being in a pre-apprenticeship program versus learning construction skills in an employer-based program—are not accurately or evenly captured by indicator variables. Rather, the latter may provide broader ranges of more or less effective experiences or services. Finally, these interventions are particularly aimed at first-time job seekers. They want high paying work—the reason that brings them to these programs. It would be interesting to observe their progress or experiences in the year after these training episodes are completed. What do they aspire to and what do they achieve? To whom do they turn for work—in future resident employers, the programs and/or the building industry? What does each offer them? The socio-cognitive model of job search combined with a job-matching model suggests that applicants will turn to employees who are having trouble fitting jobs; and that the possibility of long-term employment and earnings is increased by a match.

Our data suggest that CPCS interventions offer relatively easy and low-cost options to improving the prospects of disadvantaged non-college bound youth. The present study, while showing important evidence, is based on relatively old data. The programs that were evaluated are no longer in operation. This does not mean that the training approaches are no longer an option or not in use today. On the contrary, both pre-apprenticeship programs and individual skills training have expanded nationally. While providing lessons from earlier program models, current national skills training programs and numerous pre-apprenticeship programs must still be examined and understood. However, there are aspects of the data that might primarily reflect the period of program design and evaluation. Certainly, technology has advanced both in the building trades as well as in the preparation of program participants in the construction industry. While the building trades have made significant strides, their industries are still smaller than they were in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Have the technological requirements of the skilled building trades been significantly affected by the transition to more exotic forms of construction using curtain walls and other non-core techniques? Would the inclusion of training on such exotic techniques narrow the division found between regular and program participants?

7. Appendices

Transcripts are a history of all the coursework completed while at the college or university and the performance of the student in that coursework. Earning a certificate with documented competencies can be an important milestone for students and can significantly enhance their employability and advancement potential in the workforce. These programs are generally more specific than traditional degree programs and focus heavily on technical, hands-on learning. The programs vary widely from institution to institution, reflecting the needs of the employers and businesses in the local area. Certificate programs typically identify a set of specific competencies desired by employers. Upon completion of the certificate program, the student should have obtained those competencies.

A certificate program is a non-degree program that may lead to a certificate in a particular field. Certificate programs can usually be completed within two years. College and university certificate programs usually require formal documentation of performance, such as a transcript, that is issued by the educational institution. An important part of certificate programs is often the link to employers in specific industries. Graduates from these certificate programs are in demand in the workforce.

Within this report, we have used a number of terms related to credentialing. The following is provided to ensure our terminology is clear to our readers.

Appendix A: The CPCS Study Coalition College Survey

7.1. Survey Questionnaire

The main section includes demographics about the respondent. First, it determines basic personal information and then academic backgrounds and the professional background of the respondents like job title, number of years in the current role, and engineering work experience are also included. The second section comprises seven questions about the participants’ CPCS knowledge, including “What level of responsibility does your role have for the preservation of CPCS in your country?”, “Have you been exposed and learned about CPCS through training during your engineering education or early career onwards, courses, education, or learning?”, “Have you worked as an engineering practitioner in the construction or similar discipline industry?”, “Where did you learn about CPCS and through which medium and what are the key influencing factors?”, “What do you consider as the most significant characteristic of the CPCS process/system?”, “What do you take into account when choosing a company to work for with relation to its CPCS ethos possession?”, and “When selecting CPCS competency criteria, what would be the most important factor?” The third section covered sixteen CPCS assessment standards, about competency standards for the safe and efficient operation of construction-related plant and equipment. These survey questions were aiming at acquiring CPCS proficiency information of the respondents, specifically in relation to the extent to which they held the required relevant competences in the required areas of knowledge, understanding, and performance. Finally, in the last section, responses to the survey questions were designed to obtain demographic information about the respondents.

This subsection describes the main sections that were included in the questionnaire of this study. After each survey question, the number of each part and its content are illustrated. Apart from that, in order to ensure the homogeneity of the data, eight consensus questions on key CPCS training topics were included in the questionnaire. The purpose of the consensus question concerning the CPCS operating and training topics was to collect views from participants on some key CPCS training aspects. It was believed that by comparing the results of the CPCS training in different areas and from different engineering backgrounds, the study would be further enhanced.

7.2. Interview Protocol

The workers we interviewed crossed the socio-economic male working-class spectrum: a high-school student who said that he was curious to see “if construction is something that I enjoy”; a crew member who worked in a different building trade and who sought more experience in another trade; a day laborer who had been working for a decade and was now interested in getting OSHA 30; a few spouses of workers who accompanied them; a couple of Latino construction workers, and an Irish building porter with little or no construction experience who knew that workers were needed on public work projects and that he would make better wages and benefits if he had an OSHA 30 card.

We first conducted a pre-survey with all 17 participants on the first day of the training to understand baseline characteristics, work history, and career interest. We followed up with a post-survey at the end of the training to ask about self-assessed skill levels gained and about placement at work sites. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 of the participants to understand work experience after the training. These workers were working with signatory union construction contractors. Most entered apprenticeship programs in another building trade.

There were four 2-hour training sessions over a two-month period in 2016 at the 32BJ Training School. The sessions covered topics such as health and safety training on construction sites, labour union history, professionalism, networking, time management, and the building trades culture. Workers noted that this type of training is either rare or non-existent in the industry.