The building trades offer many opportunities for advancement. One reason for this is the large number of supervisory positions made necessary by the wide range of building activities. A foreman in almost any of the trades must be able to read plans, as he must lay out the work. It is not necessary for him to be the most skilled mechanic in the force. Employers and superintendents say that in selecting foremen they lay about equal weight on skill and on ability to handle men.
As a rule, foremanship carries with it higher wages, although in some cases the pay is the same as that of the regular journeymen. The reward for the added responsibility comes in the form of steadier employment. It is not uncommon for a foreman to be hired on a salary basis and carried on the payroll throughout the entire year.
Small contracting offers another form of advancement. It requires but little initial investment to make a modest beginning, because individual workmen in the various building trades provide their own tools and no expensive machines are required. Comparatively little working capital is necessary, as provision is made in most contracts for part payments as the work progresses.
The recommendations of the report relating to training for the building trades may be summarized under five headings:
1. Reduce retardation. The first step in improving the educational preparation of workers entering the building trades is to reduce retardation or slow progress in the elementary grades. At present it is approximately true of the men entering the building trades that one-third drop out of school by the sixth grade, two-thirds by the seventh grade, and three-thirds by the eighth grade. Now according to law a boy cannot go to work until he is 16, and if he has made normal progress he will have completed the eight grades of the elementary course before he has reached that age. In point of fact, many of these boys do not make normal progress through the grades and hence they reach the age of 15 before completing the elementary course. As a result they fall out of school without having had those portions of the work in reading, drawing, mathematics, and elementary science which would be of most direct use to them in their future work.
2. General industrial courses in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. If retardation could be largely reduced in the elementary grades, industrialized courses could be properly introduced in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades for boys intending to enter the building trades. The specific changes recommended include as their most important elements:
a. Increased training
in industrial arithmetic beginning in
the seventh grade.
b. Courses in industrial drawing.
c. Courses in elementary science relating to industry.