Construction Labor Shortages: Investing in Resources to Bring Workers Back
By Joseph Natarelli, National Construction Industry Group Leader
In the construction industry, labor shortages have been a persistent issue for several years now, leading to increased costs and project delays. The pandemic further exacerbated the problem as many workers that left the industry have yet to return. It is essential that the industry invests to bring these workers back and overcome the current shortfall. It’s a monumental task, but we have a few ideas as to how it could be accomplished.
Education and Training
One solution may be to invest in education and training programs designed to bring new workers into the industry. These programs could be anything from apprenticeships to vocational schools that instruct students in various construction skills and related trades. These programs could be further supported through job placement services that might help attract individuals to the programs generally, or the industry itself more broadly. This approach could be particularly effective for members of the workforce that lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Compensation and Equipment
Another approach would be to incentivize workers that are already within the industry to stay, while encouraging others to return or pursue a construction career. We all know what makes a good job even better: more competitive salaries and benefits, and improved working conditions. Firms could also attract new talent by making investments in new tools and equipment that make employee’s jobs easier and safer.
Adopting Cutting Edge Technology
Finally, new technology could help alleviate some of the strain on existing labor resources. Automated construction tools and machinery can help increase efficiency and productivity, allowing projects to be completed with fewer workers. The use of drones and 3D printing technology can fill in gaps with respect to some surveying, design, and construction tasks, freeing up workers for other responsibilities that require a human’s ingenuity and skill.
The persistent shortage of skilled construction labor will not solve itself. The industry must be forward-thinking, rely on established wisdom and be prepared to invest in order to encourage workers to get off the sidelines and back onto job sites.