The following was authored by Texas A&M Construction Science Professor Edelmiro Escamilla, and originally published on ConstructionCitizen.com.
As an Assistant Instructional Professor from Texas A&M University's Department of Construction Science who teaches materials and methods, construction graphics, as well as construction project management, I regularly discuss expectations and pathways for careers in the construction industry with prospective students. I also like to ask prospective students what they believe their job duties will be if they graduate on Saturday and begin work on Monday. This question has a variety of answers that include many misperceptions about the construction industry. Furthermore, when I ask them what they think construction management is, they’ll give it back to me and say that it’s the management of construction, but it's a lot more than that.
The Department of Construction Science prepares students for the next workforce generation of construction project delivery and is seeking to become more demographically representative of the state of Texas. The current Texas construction workforce is highly represented by Hispanics, but those in management positions are only a small percentage. I am also working with technical colleges to help with reaching out to prospective students and increase their student body. Texas needs to have a strong construction workforce to meet the demands of current and future construction.
Mr. Stan Marek, CEO of Marek, understands this issue and its effect on the economic standing of Texas and has graciously awarded my department a research grant. This grant funds a study that is focused on the perception of high school students, as well as those students who have gone into the skilled trades education. In the study, we’re looking at five Texas high schools with predominantly Hispanic student bodies. This has produced more than 350 completed surveys that will result in a publication. In addition, three technical colleges have been chosen to particpate in the study, and so far two have been completed and the final will take place by the end of May. The findings will be included in a report that will be produced and presented to Stan Marek this summer. We’ve had a great response rate with getting these perception surveys completed, which will be key in developing strategies and opportunities to change negative perceptions of pursuing a career in the construction industry.
I will continue to work with Marek to generate pathways and strategies to develop a sustainable capacity for the construction industry.