DRAFT Article – Where Will We Find The Next Generation of Construction Managers? — Northern California Edition


Below you will find a draft article that I am writing for Construction Management Association of America’s (CMAA) Northern California Chapter Newsletter. I wanted to share it here and request any feedback that the readers of this blog might want to offer up. The article is a little lengthy when compared to the other posts; but, I hope you can give it a read:

Where Will We Find The Next Generation of Construction Managers?

By Michael J. Nelson

In all areas of construction, the problem is the same – There are not enough construction professionals to support the future demands of the California construction market. With numerous experienced construction professionals reaching retirement age coupled with the fact that not enough new candidates are entering the field, the upcoming staffing challenges can be daunting.

The February 5, 2007 edition of Calfornia Building & Engineer Magazine confirms something that we all already know – “Shortage of skilled and educated employees is an enormous issue for the industry, and one that will continue to grow. According to FMI Research Services Group, labor shortages within the industry exist in most occupational areas, including management. California and Nevada are anticipated to undergo severe labor shortages across all occupational fields. FMI warns that the scarcity of highly educated construction managers and qualified engineers is likely to present an escalating problem for the industry

How about your own firm? Are you experiencing difficulty finding enough entry-level construction professionals to support your growth? If you are, you are not alone.

What can you do to address this problem? The balance of this article will suggest grass-root ideas that you and your firm can implement to support the next generation of construction professionals. Many of the organizations listed in this article need assistance from the construction industry. This assistance can be in the form of donations of time, resources, and funding. Each of the following organizations can benefit from industry support to generate excitement about the field of construction and to mentor the next generation of construction professionals

The ACE stands for:

This mentoring program couples high school student groups with construction industry professionals to learn more about career paths in the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering. Your firm can support this organization by providing mentors to one of the California ACE Mentor Chapters. Currently, you can find several ACE Mentor Chapters in the Bay Area with groups in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and the Peninsula.

Your firm could also partner with the ACE to offer tours of your home office, provide speakers for a “Day in the Life” point of view for the students, or conduct tours of your active jobsites. If you are a golfer, you can lend your support by grabbing your golf clubs and sponsoring a team for the Annual ACE Bay Area Golf Fundraising Tournament the proceeds of which provide scholarship funds for high school students that are pursuing higher education in design or construction industries.

Refer to the ACE Mentor website at: www.acementor.org for additional information. Click on the “Chapters” links for more specific information on Bay Area opportunities.

California has several universities with outstanding construction management and engineering programs. Some of these schools in the northern part of the state include:

– California Polytechnic State (Cal Poly) University in San Luis Obispo

– California State University at Fresno

– California State University at Sacramento

– California State University at Chico

Each of these universities produces top entry-level construction management professional. There are also several architectural and civil engineering programs in the state that yield students interested in construction management.

Each of these schools does a great job preparing there students for entry-level positions in the construction industry but each can use more industry support. In order to partner with the construction colleges, contact the department heads and see how your firm can help provide the students with more “real-world” construction exposure. Some of the traditional methods include:

– Have one of your managers or superintendents teach a class or speak at the student construction organizations.

– Conduct a tour for the students and faculty of one of your projects. For example, my firm is working with a professor at Cal Poly, to schedule a jobsite tour for 50 construction management students at one of my firm’s jobsites in Prague in the Czech Republic for this upcoming summer term.

– Sponsor scholarships for students in the construction program or donate money directly for new supplies or equipment.

At the college level, you will also find extracurricular opportunities to support the future generation of construction managers. For example, your firm can help to sponsor the annual student construction competitions conducted by the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) where students from construction management programs have approximately one day to develop a written proposal and oral presentation in response to a construction problem statement. The student teams compete on regional and national levels in several different problem categories including: commercial, heavy/highway, residential, design-build, mechanical and even more specialized topics such as LEED, BIM, and marine construction.

Refer to the ASC Competition website for the Far West and Rocky Mountain Regions at: www.asc67.org for additional information.

If this article piqued your interest in the next generation of construction managers, you can find more information on the author’s weblog entitled, “C-School Blog” (www.cschoolblog.com) which reports on current events / trends in construction management education, student construction competitions, and student outreach to encourage pursuit of construction related careers.

Michael J. Nelson is a project manager for Skanska USA Building working out of the Oakland Division Office. Mr. Nelson holds a B.S. in Construction Engineering from Iowa State University and a M.B.A. from the University of Florida.


3 Responses to “DRAFT Article – Where Will We Find The Next Generation of Construction Managers? — Northern California Edition”

  1. Herman Durazno Says:

    Hi Michael

    I like your blog is the best thing out there for those interested in CM Education.

    Could you please maybe comment of provide further information on Graduate CM education in the traditional format and on line. I’ve researched a few program and all look good on paper but your comments and advise would be of great help. I recently got accepted to the North Dakota State University On-line MS in CM. I would like to hear what you and other have to recomend when looking for online CM education.

    Please find attached a few links:





    Herman Durazno

    • RJ Says:

      Even Texas A&M University offers competitive curriculum in the field of construction management. Furthermore their program is designed in sync with the current trends by Construction Industry Advisory Council and produces excellent construction professionals. More information can be found at:

  2. Matt Says:

    Purdue University is ranked #1 in the country for the more engineering side of Construction Management. There are 270 corporations that pull students from Purdue and that is more than any other university in america.

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