Human Capital Obsolescence in the Building Construction Industry: Strategic Imperatives for Nigeria

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Human Capital Obsolescence in the Building Construction Industry: Strategic Imperatives for Nigeria

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Abstract Businesses like the Building Construction Industry (BCI) depend to a large extent on the viability of the workforce. Consequently, businesses invest heavily on the development of their employees. Regardless of the level of pro-activeness in developing and updating of human capital, it is bound to deteriorate owing to inevitable changes in the individual and workplace technology. This deterioration is known as human capital or skills obsolescence. Human capital obsolescence could be classified into technical and economic obsolescence. Technical obsolescence originates from worker's wear (illness and injuries) or atrophy due to lack of use of skills and knowledge. The purpose of this study is to investigate the technical human obsolescence and the kind of retraining workers are engaging in to encounter skills obsolescence in the BCI in Nigeria. There are studies proffering solutions to human capital obsolescence, but there are hardly any targeting specific occupations like the BCI in developing countries like Nigeria. The available studies are not only limited to developed economies, but study clusters of occupations using variables such as wage scales that vary per occupation, and evaluate only general skills to the detriment specific to occupational skills. There is increasing evidence that BCI workers increasingly sustain injuries, sometimes fatal, at work. Also, there are contradictions in the literature on prevalence of skills obsolescence. Evidence exists that skills obsolescence leads to job loss, lack of job satisfaction, unemployment, poor productivity, and low craftsmanship. This descriptive survey was conducted in Southern Nigeria. The population consisted of 236,175 BCI workers in the regional headquarters (Enugu, Lagos, and River States). The 387 participants with a minimum of high school education were randomly selected for the study. Data was collected using researcher-made questionnaire. The data were analyzed using Pearson Correlation Coefficient, Kruskal-Wallis H test statistics and SPSS software. Among the findings are evidence of attrition of experience older workers; the most preferred professional training technique was Job Rotation; worker's age had no correlation with physical wear, but had negative correlation with skills atrophy; years of work experience had no relationship with skills obsolescence. Based on the findings, changes in institutional strategies for the improvement of skills and general working conditions in the industry are recommended. There should be accountability on the side of the employer for providing opportunity for skills improvement and better working conditions and opportunities for workers to improve their skills. Thus, it is also recommended that the industry intermittently conducts a skills obsolescence survey with the view of finding if and where obsolescence exists.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2015. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Rosemarie Park. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 174 pages.

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Agbo, Benjamin. (2015). Human Capital Obsolescence in the Building Construction Industry: Strategic Imperatives for Nigeria. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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