The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

New CUPA-HR Brief Finds Crucial Need for Succession Planning and Focus on Diversity for the Higher Ed Skilled Craft Workforce

The higher ed skilled craft workforce possesses the skills necessary to maintain and improve the physical facilities and infrastructure of college campuses. However, the aging of this workforce and the lack of younger workers to take the place of older employees as they retire puts institutions in a challenging position to attract new talent.

CUPA-HR’s Higher Ed Skilled Craft Workforce¬†brief, published this month, draws on data for 15,558 skilled craft employees reported by 675 institutions. It focuses on pay in the skilled craft workforce, aging of the skilled craft workforce, representation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in skilled craft positions, the opportunities for growth in areas of diversity and equity, and recommended next steps for colleges and universities.

Aging of the Skilled Craft Workforce

Though well-paid skilled craft positions might attract people of all ages, the figure below shows that the age distribution of the skilled craft workforce skews toward older employees. Overall, most (56 percent) of the skilled craft workforce is concentrated between the ages of 50 and 65, and only 17 percent of the skilled craft workforce is under age 40. The figure suggests a crucial need for succession planning for skilled craft positions with a focus on recruiting younger workers.

Representation and Pay of Racial/Ethnic Minorities and Women

Women and racial/ethnic minorities are notably underrepresented among skilled craft workers. Overall, 3 percent of the skilled craft workforce are women, and 17 percent are racial/ethnic minorities.

Additionally, women are paid less than men (only 80 cents on the dollar). Overall, racial/ethnic minorities are paid less than White employees (96 cents on the dollar). The need to focus on improving pay equity for women and racial/ethnic minorities in the skilled craft workforce is clear, and the aging of the current workforce offers an opportunity to address these issues.

So what can higher ed institutions do to build and diversify the pipeline for skilled craft positions? Read the full brief to learn about opportunities for growth in areas of diversity and equity and recommended next steps for institutions.