29. Educational Attainment and Internet Usage in Construction and Other Industries
Construction workers have the lowest levels of education among all industries except for agriculture (chart 29a). In 2015, about 40% of construction workers had some post-secondary education, in contrast to 65% of the total workforce.1 In addition to formal education, most construction knowledge is learned on the job or from special courses, licensing and certification processes, and apprenticeships (see page 30).
Production (blue-collar, see Glossary) workers have a lower level of educational attainment than the overall workforce in general, and the proportion of production workers in construction with formal education is even lower than among production workers in other industries. In 2015, 24% of construction production workers had less than a high school diploma, compared to 15% of their counterparts in other industries.1 Historically, formal educational requirements were uncommon for most production occupations. However, today most construction trades need a high school diploma or its equivalent.2 Workers are often encouraged or required to attend an apprenticeship program, trade or vocational school, association training class, or community college to further their trade-related training (see page 30).
In construction, union members (see page 12) tend to have higher levels of educational attainment than non-union workers. In 2015, nearly one in three non-union production workers (28.5%) lacked a high school diploma or equivalent compared to only one in ten union workers (10.9%; chart 29b). Similarly, a larger portion of union members had post-secondary education (41.3%) — including some college or a bachelor’s degree — than non-union workers (26.9%).
Educational attainment also differs among demographic groups. Hispanic construction workers, who are more likely to be foreign-born (see pages 15 and 16), are much less likely to have a high school diploma or post-secondary education than non-Hispanic workers. Nearly half (46.0%) of Hispanic construction workers had less than a high school diploma, compared to 8.6% of their non-Hispanic counterparts (chart 29c). Women workers, who typically have non-production jobs in construction, have higher educational attainment than male workers. Between racial groups in construction, there is no significant difference in educational attainment.1
With the rapid adoption of information technology, access to computers and the internet is increasingly widespread. In 2003, only 39% of construction workers had internet at home and 20% at work.3 By 2015 these proportions nearly doubled, with 68.2% of construction workers accessing internet at home and 38.7% at work (chart 29d). However, lower proportions of construction workers have internet access at home or work compared to the overall workforce. In 2015, 77.4% of workers in all industries had access to internet at home, and 55.9% had access to internet at work.
With the availability of tablets, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices, the internet is accessible via more devices than ever before. In 2015, 79.0% of construction workers used smartphones, 43.4% had laptops, and 32.1% used desktop computers (chart 29e). Although construction still lags behind most other industries with regard to information technology usage, the increasing access to handheld devices and the internet among construction workers will present new opportunities for communicating with and providing information to the construction workforce.
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Production workers – In this chart book, interchangeable with blue-collar workers. From the Current Population Survey: all workers, except managerial, professional (architects, accountants, lawyers, etc.), and administrative support staff. Production workers can be either wage-and-salary or self-employed workers.
1. The numbers for education are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 Current Population Survey (CPS). The numbers for computer use are from 2015 Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the CPS. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/home.htm (Accessed March 2016).
3. CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. The Construction Chart Book, fourth edition (chart 28d). CPWR: Silver Spring, MD.
Chart 29b – Production workers include all workers except managerial, professional, and administrative support staff, and include the self-employed. Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Chart 29c – Totals may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Charts 29d and 29e – Computer access includes all individuals living in households in which the respondents answered “yes” to the question, “Do you or any member of this household own or use a personal computer, a handheld computer, or a smartphone?” Internet access was for respondents using the internet at home or in the workplace.
Charts 29a, 29b, and 29c – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 Current Population Survey. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.
Charts 29d and 29e – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.