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History of the CWDA

Under the guidance and leadership of the CURT Workforce Development Committee and NCCER, the Contractors' Workforce Development Assessment (CWDA) was developed to evaluate and provide a qualitative metric that would fairly, consistently, and objectively represent a contractor's commitment to workforce development. The intention of the CWDA is to make workforce development a key criterion in both the prequalification and the final selection of contractors, just as contractor safety, quality, and schedule are key selection criteria. The CWDA can help owners compare contractor craft training programs and provide a set of objective measures to improve what has traditionally been a subjective analysis.

The CWDA was developed with a number of key goals in mind, including the following:

  • Minimizing subjectivity to the extent possible
  • Weighting questions by their importance and impact on workforce development
  • Considering and accommodating the impact of different types of contractors (i.e., self-performing contractor, construction manager, and subcontractors)
  • Ensuring that the tool is labor-posture-neutral
  • Using third parties to collect and audit information to achieve consistency

The CWDA was created to effectively evaluate a contractor's workforce development commitment and program quality. It was also developed to clearly communicate a result or metric that represents the commitment and quality of a contractor's program.

The subcommittee developed, vetted, piloted, and validated the CWDA over a five-year period, starting in 2007. The group began by compiling information critical to evaluating a contractor's workforce development program. Members of Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of America, NCCER, organized labor, and CURT vetted draft questions and a list of terms and definitions. Then, through a web-based survey tool, participants answered questions about each CWDA question, definition, and term.

113 survey respondents rated the importance of each question's topic on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is minimally important, 3 is important, and 5 is critical. Each question's average "importance" value was calculated on the basis of 113 respondents. Of these respondents, 57 were contractors, 26 were owners, and 26 were categorized as other (e.g., training organizations and industry associations). As a result of the feedback gathered, the CWDA scoring methodology was further strengthened to ensure consistent, qualitative results and scoring.

To validate the CWDA, the Construction Industry Institute's Construction Productivity Research Program assessed the accuracy of the CWDA in two parts. The first part of the validation examined differences in assessed importance among the contractors, owners, and other training professionals who participated in the national survey. The purpose of this analysis was to ensure that the assessed importance for the different workforce development elements was consistent among the participating demographic groups. Statistical analyses of the survey data revealed that the difference in averaged importance for the different elements among the three groups was not statistically significant (significant values were all greater than 0.10). This finding indicates that the weights developed for the CWDA are consistent.

The next aspect of the CWDA validation effort consisted of a pilot program using 22 contractor participants. These participating contractors were a combination of general and specialty contractors, and their primary market sectors included industrial and commercial construction. The research team evaluated the effectiveness of the CWDA tool by comparing the respondents' CWDA scores and the safety performance of their respective organizations. In theory, the companies with higher CWDA scores should have better safety performance.

The research examined the relationship between the CWDA score and the total injury and illness rate (TIIR); the days away, restricted, or transferred (DART) rate; and the experience modification rate (EMR) of each contractor. Among the companies with CWDA scores either above or below 90 percent, there was a significant cut-off point. Companies that scored at or above 90 percent also reported significantly lower TIIR, DART, and EMR rates. This research validated that projects with better CWDA scores also have better safety performance data.