Charles Jahrencjahren@iastate.edu email >
Associate Director, Construction Materials and Methods / Asset Management
About the research
Hispanics make up a growing percentage of the craft workers entering the construction industry, and this has created several challenges for American construction companies. This study addresses the situation by investigating training needs for Hispanic construction craft workers and developing a training program for them within the industry. In order to evaluate current craft workers’ conditions within the construction industry, Iowa State University researchers conducted a survey, with 98 Hispanic craft workers as respondents from 10 construction companies, to determine current working conditions. The results confirm that the language barrier is an obstacle for both the Hispanic workers and the English-speaking employees involved in construction projects.
As a part of this research, two training courses were designed to help both American construction companies and their Hispanic labor force to overcome the barriers that keep them from succeeding safely and productively. A training course titled English as a Second Language Survival Course was developed to facilitate basic communication between Hispanic workers and their American supervisors using construction-focused terminology. This course was delivered once as a trial run for a two-hour duration and twice for a full-length duration of eight hours. Important feedback was obtained from participants as part of the evaluations of the course. ‘How much of the course contents will be useful in your working environment’ was asked; 40% of workers said ‘all of it’ and 60% said ‘most of it.’ Another question was ‘Was it worth taking the time to attend the course?’ to which 94% answered ‘definitely’ and 6% answered ‘yes.’
A second training course titled Stepping Up to Supervisor Course for Hispanic Construction Workers was also developed to provide an effective tool to help companies promote those Hispanic craft workers whose willingness and skills meet the requirements to advance to a supervisory position in an American construction company.