Leveraging IT to Solve Construction Labor Shortage
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath, many industries have faced an increasing challenge in finding and retaining enough talent. During this period the U.S. unemployment rate has hovered at a multi-decade low of 3.8% as job openings and quits swelled to historic highs, and layoff rates fell to record lows. Adding to the pain for employers, employees are actively seeking to change jobs with 44% of currently employed workers identifying as “job seekers” — according to Willis Towers Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey. Like never before, employees are open and prepared to seek a change in employment.
The construction industry knows the labor shortage pains all too well. Construction has suffered from labor shortages as well as supply chain issues delaying many projects. Prior to the pandemic, the United States construction industry employed 7.6 million workers. The count of total employed dipped by 1.1 million during the pandemic and has since recovered back to 7.4 million — still short of the pre-pandemic level. Add in the pre-pandemic annual labor growth rate of 2.5 million jobs per year, and the construction industry has fallen well behind the labor curve.
The labor pains faced by the industry are not new and were only amplified by the pandemic. Contractors have had to face a perception problem as today’s workers look to safer work environments that better leverage technology, especially around productivity and remote work.
However, it’s not all bad news for the industry. Many of the technological advances that will attract new talent can also lead to increased productivity and improved scheduling. By leveraging automation and cloud collaboration platforms, construction companies can respond to increasing demand by completing projects faster and more efficiently. Tools that increase project visibility, workflows, and streamline scheduling are widely available and growing in use throughout the industry. Improving collaboration leads to enhanced quality control as well as job site safety as inspections are logged, vitals are monitored, and safety documentation is more easily shared.
Working smarter instead of harder can help solve many of the industry’s perception problems when it comes to hiring. Leveraging digital technologies can lead to better data, faster decisions, and ultimately increased margins; while also creating a technically advanced work environment that attracts talent. Companies can access a range of tools to reduce labor inputs required per job and drive productivity in project development and delivery. Technology advancements in design, automation, and cloud collaboration will drive this evolution.
Construction projects in the US are short-staffed and the problem is set to get worse. Innovative companies within the industry can stand out in the job market by leveraging technology to attract new employees and retain established talent all while improving job efficiency and safety. If you are ready to set your competitive edge in the market, contact us, we’re here to help.