The CSU’s Graduation Initiative is the university’s latest effort to improve student achievement, with a goal to graduate an additional 500,000 students to meet the needs of California's employers by 2025. Last year, the CSU granted a record number of degrees, sending nearly 120,000 graduates into the workforce. 

Responding to changes in the workforce, CSU trustees recently authorized three campuses to develop construction management programs as the construction industry has been one of the fastest-growing job markets in both the state and the U.S.

Fresno State and Cal State Long Beach will each add a master’s program while San Diego State will add a bachelor’s program. These are in addition to existing programs at Chico, East Bay, Fresno, Long Beach, Northridge, Sacramento and San Luis Obispo.

The Future of Construction 

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the employment of construction managers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026 nationally, faster than the average for all occupations.  At the state level, California added the most construction jobs in the past year of any industry: an increase of 47,400 jobs, or a 6.1 percent jump.

A recent report on the future of California’s economy from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows that the construction industry is projected to grow at a faster rate than any other industry in the state with a projected job growth of about 33 percent between 2014 and 2024.

While California’s prosperous economy is creating more job opportunities for the construction industry than it can fill, the current workforce is aging, and the amount of intellectual capital retiring within the next decade will contribute greatly to the workforce shortage.

“In any given year, you’re talking about an industry that’s responsible for 10-15 percent of the Gross National Product,” says Al Hauck, director of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s construction management program. “It’s a big economic driver in California and without the managers to run these projects, the industry will suffer.”

Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders

As of fall 2017, more than 2,100 students were enrolled in construction management programs at nine campuses. Hauck says that though this barely puts a dent in the number of graduates needed to fill the projected job shortage, enrollment is growing every year.

“All of the construction management programs in the CSU are playing a vital role of addressing a major workforce shortage in the construction industry,” says Hauck. “At Cal Poly, we have 100 percent placement for graduates and typically even multiple offers.”

Hauck says Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” approach is particularly appropriate for construction management. Students are offered multiple paid internship opportunities beginning after freshman year, and they take part in national competitions in which students solve real-world issues presented by actual construction companies.

At Chico State, students take part in community service projects, internships and competitions that give them first-hand experience and help them grow personally while giving back to the community.

Last year, students and faculty served as leaders and managers of a project to develop, design and build four transitional housing units for the Salvation Army. This year, students will be installing playground equipment and pouring new concrete at Bidwell Park, among several other planned projects.

Chico State construction management program director Joel Arthur has also developed special pathways to help students graduate in a timely manner – especially transfer students, who often don’t have access to construction management courses until they reach the CSU. 

“If transfer students come in with their required math, physics and accounting courses done, I can get them out in four semesters,” says Arthur. “They can take our pivotal lower-division course concurrent with our upper-division courses, allowing them to finish sooner.”

Industry Support

CSU students begin receiving support from the industry as soon as they step foot on campus through paid internships and one-on-one meetings with company recruiters. 

Ben Craigs, a recruiter for McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., says his company relies on CSU graduates.

“The CSU family of campuses have always been standouts and we always look forward to meeting their students,” says Craigs. “California is one of our strongest markets, and we believe McCarthy has tremendous opportunity for the top talent the CSU is producing.”

Craigs says the curriculum and the faculty members teaching the material contribute to CSU students being so desired by employers. Students are taught by industry professionals who have decades of experience in the field. 

 “We’ve been very impressed with not only the students, but with the programs that are teaching and supporting them and faculty that work so hard to develop the talent.”

Investing in California’s Future

Growing these high-demand programs in construction management is one of the ways the CSU is meeting California’s workforce needs. To succeed, the university needs additional on-going state funding to increase tenure-track faculty and student-support services, expand courses and welcome qualified California students.

To learn more about how you can help, visit: bit.ly/ChooseCSU.


Chico State students take part in the university's annual "Blitz Build" in which they construct 
transitional housing units for the Salvation Army.