Embracing Technology – Help Solve Construction’s Labor Shortage

The Labor Shortage – It’s Been Around a Long Time

To many in the industry, construction’s labor shortage could be likened to a persistent head cold...it just seems to drag on and on and on. 

The problem can be traced back a decade to the subprime mortgage meltdown and the resulting fallout in the real estate market. The market downturn quickly led to a loss of roughly 900,000 skilled workers or 22% of the workforce. The turndown marked the exodus of about 30% of skilled construction workers. Combine that economic fallout with the demographics of today’s construction labor pool, largely consisting of baby boomers (many in the process of retiring), and you have the perfect storm for a labor shortage. 

The 2018-2019 Picture - Jobs Are Plentiful, but Skilled Workers Are Not

Oddly enough, the current labor shortage certainly cannot be blamed on a lack of jobs. Fueled by a strong economy, the Associated General Contractors of America notes that construction jobs rose to 330,000 in 2018. Meanwhile, hourly pay jumped 3.9 percent, representing the highest increase in a decade. Still, 90 percent of reported contractors say they have a shortage of skilled workers. 67 percent say they find it difficult to hire supervisory staff.

Technology – The “Golden Egg” to Attracting the Next Generation to Construction

Let’s face it...the construction industry has never been a leader in turning to new technology to bolster productivity. However, the ongoing labor crunch is forcing companies to look to technology as a way to improve efficiencies and attract younger generations to the industry

Many are adopting leaner, more agile workflow processes such as the Design-Build model of project delivery where a team provides both the design and construction services during the entire project lifecycle. Some are using Building Information Modeling (BIM), which utilizes real-life data to guide physical construction. Others are employing virtual and augmented reality technology to provide computer-aided visualization.

Incorporating emerging technologies into construction projects adds new interest to those unfilled jobs. The jobs become desirable to tech-savvy Gen Zers, who might not consider construction as a career. Whether the tech application involves drones, artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, smartphone apps, tablets, or wearables using sensors, this demographic is drawn to jobs using new technologies.

As a national construction company, Cleveland Construction embraces new technologies available for management and fabrication. As an industry leader, we recognize that incorporating leading-edge ideas into our projects helps us to improve performance while delivering the highest quality project within budget. It is part of our unyielding commitment to deliver on our Make It True® mission.