Impact of the Internet on the Recruitment of Skilled Labor

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IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON THE
RECRUITMENT OF SKILLED LABOR
CARL T. HAAS, PH.D., P.E.
ROBERT W. GLOVER, PH.D.
RICHARD L. TUCKER, PH.D., P.E.
R. KEVIN TERRIEN, P.E.
CE N T E R F O R CO N S T R U C T I O N IN D U S T R Y ST U D I E S RE P O R T NO. 17
THE UN I V E R S I T Y O F TE XA S A T AU S T I Nii
IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON THE RECRUITMENT OF
SKILLED LABOR
by
Carl T. Haas, Ph.D., P.E.
Robert W. Glover, Ph.D.
Richard L. Tucker, Ph.D., P.E.
R. Kevin Terrien, P.E.
A Report of
Center for Construction Industry Studies
The University of Texas at Austin
Under the Guidance of the
Workforce Thrust Team
Austin, Texas
February 2001 v
Executive Summary
Given the explosive growth of the Internet, the strong economy and record low unemployment rates at the end of the 1990s, construction organizations are increasing their use of the Internet as a recruitment tool. The growth of the Internet in the United States is increasing and more Americans are gaining Internet access. The Internet economy is changing the way business is conducted by opening new avenues of communication, collaboration and coordination between consumers, businesses and trading partners.

Recruiting using the Internet is growing and the construction industry has been slow to adapt. Advantages of the Internet recruitment include lower recruiting costs, faster recruiting cycle, higher caliper recruits and increased audience reach. Potential barriers to Internet recruitment include the digital divide, limited Internet access, usage problems and flawed infrastructure. It is premature to assess the role of the Internet and the controversy surrounding union salting.

Construction organizations use the Internet for recruitment of professional, executive and administrative staff. Construction organizations could expand their Internet recruiting strategies to include the skilled labor workforce to attract workers and obtain a competitive advantage. There is a potential opportunity for construction organizations to use the Internet for recruitment of skilled labor. This is an area that may have been overlooked by construction organizations to enhance recruitment of skilled labor.

Results of a survey of construction executives from 18 organizations indicated that the classified ads and employment agencies were the primary channels for recruitment of professional, technical and administrative staff. Word of mouth, union hiring halls and classified ads were the primary channels for recruitment of skilled labor. None of the organizations use the Internet as a primary or secondary channel for vi recruitment skilled labor. Results of the survey indicate that the Internet is seen as a valuable tool in recruitment and varies dramatically with respect to labor type. Eightythree percent of the responding organizations indicated that the Internet is a valuable tool for recruitment of professional, technical, and administrative staff. Only 44% of the responding organizations indicated that the Internet is a valuable tool for recruitment of skilled labor. The organizations responded that the greatest benefit for using the Internet, as a recruiting tool includes: increased audience reach (50% of surveyed organizations) followed by convenience (28%), reduced cost (17%), and reduced time 11%, respectively. Survey respondents indicated that the most frequent response for improvements in the Internet was improvements in on-line recruiting sites. Best practices for the construction industry include a business model consisting of four main functions: attract potential skilled labor to web site, meet their information needs, simplify the application process and streamline the processing of applications. Key factors and features to consider and evaluate include cost of web hosting, staffing and training personnel, level of depth for integrating the online recruiting strategy,...
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