A recent article from Engineering News Report has shed some new light on an age old issue, the drop of productivity in construction. The article is titled “Don’t Blame the Worker” covers a study on craft workers and came to some conclusions that may shock some people.

Workers want to work, they have no intention to be unproductive.  The research team found that most management persons, particularly in the general contracting sector, “lacked sufficient understanding of the issues that keeps craft workers off their tools.” Most common complaints by the craft worker s were: no forklift to move wallboard, no reply from the engineer/architect about unclear plans and specs, fixing prefabricated items and looking for tools.

“The vast majority of workers want to be productive” reported Chris Buck of Productivity Enhancement   Resources.  It was also noted that some fingers pointed at labor unions as being the problem, but with decline in union market share being equal to decline in construction productivity, it seems that is now officially a moot point.

My additional thoughts to this article are that many management personnel today have little to no field experience. College is great but you do not learn how to lay out a job, motivate people and the importance of sequencing in school.  And you certainly do not learn what can and can’t be done by the craftspeople on site. It may look pretty on paper but is it feasible to achieve?  Spread sheets are nice, but there is just no substitute for a smart savvy carpenter, lather, drywaller or plasterer.