Factors That Influence Proficiency Improvement Of Artisans In The Formal Construction Sector

Term Paper, 2016

17 Pages, Grade: 62.3

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1.1.1. Proficiency Improvement in Artisans
1.1.2. Challenges that often affect the success of projects
1.2.1. Variables Used in Questionnaires
1.2.2. Target Population
1.3.0. RESULTS
1.3.1. Respondent Category/ Proficiency Factors & Challenges
1.4.1. Other factor(s) Arising



The Ghanaian construction industry is one of the highest labor force employment sector. This industry which is divided into two separate sectors of formal and informal sectors employs a substantial number of construction artisans of different trades of work. Having known that human related problems affects the success of the industry; objectives were settled on to look out for such factors that have influence on artisans’ proficiency improvements. This research therefore aimed to find these factors in the formal construction sector and its associate challenges that often affect projects successes and hence also affects Artisans proficiencies. Having researched into literatures and hypothesis, factors acquired were put into questionnaires of five-point Likert Scales. Artisans and associate supervisors of construction firms registered under Ministry of Water Resource Works and Housing in Kumasi metropolis (D1K1 to D4K4 contractors)were engaged to rank influential factors on Artisans work productivity and skills ( Proficiencies ) improvements and the challenges often faced up as a result of proficiency issues. Data collected from randomly selected 56 respondents out of 60 sample size yielded substantial findings of which an overall influential factor was obtained as drawings and detailed specifications, and variations to works as the highest challenge often faced up with success of projects that affects proficiency improvement.

Key words: Factors, Artisan, Proficiency, Skills, Productivity, Improvement, Project Challenges.


“The primitive man’s only source of power lay in his own muscles. His first triumph came when he learned to adapt the element of his work, reducing the effort required by distributing the burden” (Boudet et.al, 1962). Evolutionarily, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, buildings were constructed using the master builder system (Robson & Bashford, 1997) where Master builders were the craft workers who were very skillful in their works and as well recognized by the amount of good works done. Additionally, the Authors (Robson & Bashford, 1997) made it known that these masters took up upon themselves apprentices to learn the trade. In no time, guilds were form and by the early thirteenth century, building was organized around the craft guild system (Salzman, 1952; Harvey, 1972) and master builders became employers of craft workers now known as Artisans and now master builders recognized as contractors.

Stirring on, the Ghanaian construction industry over the recent years is made up of two separate and somehow interdependent sectors of construction practitioners which are the formal and the informal (Anvuur.et al., 2006). Notwithstanding the fact that the informal sector arguably over populate the formal sector from the stance of how selfbuild houses (which are often constructed by contracting small and/or labor only contractors with traditional skills) account for the largest share of housing in many developing countries such as Ghana, (Ahadzie & Badu, 2011) there is the necessitation for the industry to be dynamic in order to keep pace due to the evolutions of construction constantly undergoing changes both technologically and the ways of construction (Aouad et. al, 2010).

However, hypothesis based on the concern of A.J. Theibolt, as stated that “certain portions of the industry have almost uniquely retained from the mediaeval artisan guilds and has been circumvented or strained by the new jobs requiring nontraditional skills and the growing need for additional job levels between the fully skilled and the unskilled laborer” (Thiebolt, 2002) shows that practicability skills development and training is required for a proficient completion of projects. Also from the works of (Datta, 2000), it was observed that there exists an increasing concern about shortage of skills in the industry and for that matter; fewer people are being trained to replace the aging skilled workforce. The Author also made it known that too few are acquiring the technical (practical training) and managerial skills required to get full value from developing techniques and technology which involves communication. Therefore these bases signified that there were certain factors that influence workers (Artisans) proficiency improvement; this prompted the need to explore into these two subjects which have been listed below;

- Influential factors on proficiency (productivity and skills) improvement; and
- Challenges often encountered on the success of their projects due to the later.


Proficiency according to a business dictionary is the mastery of a specific behavior or skill demonstrated by consistently superior performance, measured against established or popular standards. Other synonymous words are “skills”, “know-how”, “competence”, “efficiency”, and “productivity” amongst others. (EncartaWorld English dictionary, 1999). It could also be however be termed as how well (skillful) an individual entity uses available resources to produce outputs from inputs (productivity) (Attar et al., 2012).

Artisan on the other hand, according to the first edition of Encarta world English dictionary (1999), is one who is skilled at a craft. These, sometimes is interchangeably used for a construction laborer in Ghana.


Despite the rapidly recovering construction market, many companies are still finding it difficult to be successful (Ken, 2015). Compared with other industries, the Ghanaian construction industry is a low-tech and labor intensive one (Fugar et al., 2013) making the success of projects greatly depending on artisans (laborers). The element of artisan is an important ingredient which must be available in the implementation of a construction project; however skilled labor usually becomes in short supply owing to the overwhelming supply of the unskilled when it comes to large developmental projects (Management of Civil Works: Communication, 1999) which is arguably true in other developing countries like Brazil (Wells, 2007),

1.1.1. Proficiency Improvement in Artisans

Even though the industry employs technology, and there is no doubt to how efficient technologically operated task will possess, with its higher skills, productivity and precision more than a human effort, the fact that most of these tech-plants are majorly operated by Artisans who by certain factors lack skills and moreover prefer labor operated tasks than technological plants (Abdullahi, Anum, & Williams, 2015) tends to limit productivity and success of projects. According to Fugar et al., (2013), some human-related problems that have afflicted the industry over the years are low productivity, low quality workmanship, low level of technical and managerial competence (skills), and time and cost overruns which are attributed to artisans’ proficiency.

It has been noted that all artisans of construction firms possess unequal proficiency levels. As a matter of fact individual artisans day in day out improve upon there proficiencies in one way or the other to keep in pace with time. According to Vaid (1999), skills formation and technical training is crucial to economic betterment of people and national development as construction contribute a sufficient amount to the nation’s GDP (GSS, 2015) and to national socio-economic development by providing infrastructures (Ofori, 2012). The Author, Vaid (1999), further stated that the ability to earn more in construction sector depends on the skills the individual possessed and the productivity level. This was also pondered on by Thieblot (2002) that even though technology has robed of the work of artisans, the need to improve upon ones’ proficiency is demanding as the industry is gradually laying off workers of “lift-and-carry” works unassisted by mechanical advantage.

In a study of 45 factors affecting labor productivity in the Gaza strip, Enshassi et al. (2007) noted that the 10 most important factors negatively affecting labor productivity are: material shortages; lack of labor experience; lack of labor surveillance; misunderstanding between labor and superintendents; drawings and specification alterations during project execution; payment delay; labor disloyalty; inspection delay; working seven days per week without holiday; and tool/equipment shortages (Chigara & Moyo, 2014). These and other influential factors were picked up for the research. In other to stabilize these numerous factors, considerable and most appropriate factors which would enable artisans acquire certain skills they did not have before or lacked upon entering the industry and also help augment existing proficiency level were sorted. This is tabulated below.

Table 1.1 Factors of Artisans Proficiency Improvement

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These factors generally inter-link with each other such that two or more of these factors could be under the influence of another factor hereby appraising a factor may turn out to be in connection with another.

1.1.2. Challenges that often affect the success of projects.

The Ghanaian contractor generally, has been perceived as inefficient, that is, the Ghanaian Contractor lacks managerial skills and has limited technical know-how. (The Ghanaian Times, Thursday, 12 March, 2009). The Ghanaian contractor has also been accused of not been able to deliver completed projects to specifications and quality standards. (Nduro, 2010).

According to Ahadzie and Badu (2011), the reality of construction project or activity is that, “no two identical houses can be the same in quality because of variation in construction process, skills and attitudes of tradesmen or artisans and whether specified materials were correctly delivered and installed” (Toole, 2001) and also as Fugar et al., (2013) also commented on some human-related problems that has afflicted the industry over the years, this challenges are meant to tract, forecast and ultimately control those variables that are important to the success of a project.

Notwithstanding the advantage of being registered as a formal practitioner, these practitioners compared to the informal faces a great deal of challenges in their construction business as stated by Amoah, et al. (2014), evidence provided by Edmonds and Miles (1984) and Ofori (1984) about three decades ago revealed chronic delay in the payments of contractors for work done, lack of credit facilities for firms, poor communication structures and an unreliable material supply base. And also using quantitative analysis, Ahadzie (1995) also reported evidence of lack of finance and credit facilities for contractors, delay in the payment of contractors as in project payment plan for work done, design changes and/or variations, low morale and motivation of craftsmen, poor planning and supervision which results in low mechanization and construction gone wrong. Such challenges results in difficulties getting contracts due to bad completed previous projects.

With these, many construction companies instead pirate artisans trained by independent foremen or master craftsmen (Stretton, 1998), according to Ogbeifun, (2011). It is quite ambiguous in the sense that many formal practitioners usually employ unskilled labor in short terms for intermediate works with little or no contractual terms at low cost since most of them (unskilled laborers) lack the necessary skills and training to carry out work making work progress dawdling. This on the part of the formal construction industry not making meaningful contributions to skills development in the industry (Ogbeifun, 2011).

So therefore, with these challenges on board, recommendations proposed is to find out those factors that influence proficiency improvement in artisans the most and take the next step of remedial actions in attending to those factors to solving the challenges faced up in the success of construction projects completions.

Table 1.2 Challenges of Project success

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From the literature review factors for artisans’ proficiencies improvement and construction challenges were used to assess respondents (artisan and supervisors) in the construction firms by adopting the random sampling technique (Israel, 1992) means of distributing a structured questionnaire . Dialogues concerning the questionnaires were conducted specifically with the artisans of these firms who for either reason could neither read nor write. Practical and unbiased questions were prepared to get information from all respondents for data analysis

1.2.1. Variables Used in Questionnaires

Considering the influential factors, there are factors which were considered as positive factors and others as negative and others which were neutral. Therefore from the influences gathered, these were grouped as tabulated below in a sequence of three columns indicating positive influences, neutral influences and negative influences as depicted in the table 1.2, showing section 1.2.1, 1.2.2 and 1.2.3 respectively.

Table 1.3 Factors of Proficiency Improvement

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1.2.2. Target Population

The study targeted the population of all formal classes of construction practitioners from D1K1 to D4K4 in the Kumasi metropolis. According to Nduro, (2010), 917 registered construction firms can be recognized in Ghana as of 2010, but due to difficulties and lack of keeping records of newly evolving firms (Amoah, P. et al., 2014), approximately 150 can be recognized in the whole Kumasi metropolis currently from an online based construction directories (Ghana Yellow,2016). This number, 150 formed the population frame for the study. Adopting the Kish’s Formula for selecting the number of representative respondents, the sample size resulted to 60 respondents with a 95% confidence level.

1.3.0. RESULTS

As a study of great importance, questions prepared were distributed to sixty-five (65) respondents instead of the sixty (60) targeted respondents of construction sites visited. Out of persistent follow-ups, fifty-eight (58) responses where obtained of which fifty-six (56) were valid upon detailed scrutiny of responses. All questionnaires gotten for study was finally fifty-six (56) out of sixty (60) targeted respondents thus 93.33% response rate. Social Sciences (SPSS) descriptive statistics (Descriptive and frequency) was used for the data analysis. The out-come are as follows.

1.3.1. Respondent Category/ Proficiency Factors & Challenges

From the data collected, shown by diagram below represents persons met at construction sites. These were 26.8% Project Managers of total respondents; 10.7 % of Structural Engineers, 17.9% of Quantity Surveyors, 5.4% of Services Engineers, 3.6% of Labor only Contractors, 5.4% of Civil Engineers, 28.6% of Artisans and 1.8% of Architects. This in all forms approximately 71.6% Supervisors and 28.6% Artisan. Supervisors’ percentage was higher than Artisans because they were more concern of letting artisans give out confidential information.

Diagram 1.1. Respondent Category

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Table 1.4. Positive Influence Factors

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1.5. Neutral Influence Factors

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1.6. Negative Influence Factors

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From analysis, it could be seen that some respondents declined answering certain questions making number of respondents (N) not being up to 56, therefore making a valid respondents of 50, 51 and 50 for positive, neutral and negative factors respectively and their respective mean score ranking factors and standard deviations.

1.7. Challenges of Project Success

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This table above inscribes the analysis of challenges that are faced in project successes that have negative effects on artisans’ proficiencies improvements. These are mean score ranked with the first being Variations with mean score of 3.35 and variation of 1.231 followed by Shoddy Works on site by fellow artisans and so on. With this section all respondents gave their answers which resulted to a valid number of respondents (N) as 56.


From the researches and reviewed analysis, it has become known that artisans are influenced by working factors encountered on sites. These factors which enables them improve upon their proficiencies are sometimes hindered as a result of improper communication relationship between them (artisans) and superiors on site (contractors or consultants). This makes it difficult for artisans to bring up their views on issues that are related to their weakening of their performance or the stagnation of their skills. It was further reveled that supervisors fell reluctant in training them on site since it was assumed they (Artisans) would resign after acquiring such proficiencies and there by coming back not as an artisan but subcontractor on contract terms. This made the firm rather go in for unskilled artisans who could rather obey instructions to work and be paid lesser than a skilled artisan. It was also noticed that high ranking factors played a major role in their proficiency improvements in the sense that such factors either helped or lower their morale in acquiring extra levels of proficiencies in the industry for successful delivery of quality projects on stipulated duration.

1.4.1. Other factor(s) Arising

Due to the assurance on confidentiality of the data collection, respondents were free to bring up political factor as a contributory influential factor which have impact on artisans’ proficiency. This factor which was sparked up by Socio Ethnicity of Artisans factor in the questionnaire (negative factors) is said according to the interviewee (in local Ghanaian Asante Twi dialect translated by interviewer/ data collector unaltered) that “some ethnic groups are good when it comes to the industry of construction and are quick to pick up trade skills faster” in as much as that, the respondents also stated that “some of the artisans are politically motivated such that they become either averse or otherwise when working for construction firms they know to be affiliated to a specific political party they oppose or support”. When asked by interviewer that if these behavior was a conscious factor of being inefficient on site, the response from another respondent was that, “it sometimes occurs unconsciously, so far as you know of your neighbor’s political status, you do not relate quite well especially when operating the same task which detains proficiency”

From the analysis of the interview it could arguably be said that belonging to a political party may influence proficiency improvement on site either negatively or positively depending on the political stand of artisans and his/her neighboring political influencers.


To conclude, the main work potency of construction projects lies on the proficiency of artisans and the managing strategies of superiors to achieve a successful project. Hence the introduction of factors of proficiency improvement for skills development and productivity level will enable site managers and supervisors recognize the flaws and loop holes in artisan inefficiencies causes and ensure effective management of these factors to boost the construction industry’s success as well as to the benefit of artisans and the nation as well in implementing its Sustainable Development Goal in infrastructure development.


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Factors That Influence Proficiency Improvement Of Artisans In The Formal Construction Sector
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology  (Building Technology)
Construction Technology and Management
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factors, that, influence, proficiency, improvement, artisans, formal, construction, sector
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Aaron Alorbu (Author)Divine K. Ahadzie (Author), 2016, Factors That Influence Proficiency Improvement Of Artisans In The Formal Construction Sector, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/366626


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