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State of the Construction Industry: September 2021 Roundup

Phil Puccio

Finding skilled labor has become a critical issue on the construction industry.

Construction Executive magazine published an in-depth feature—The War for Talent—in September that breaks down what many contractors already know: the COVID pandemic pushed an already challenging construction labor shortage to even greater extremes.

Higher wage expectations, lack of construction trade courses and skill-based training, demands by younger workers for modern technologies and automation and the explosion of tech-enabled career paths in other industries have all contributed to the shallowness of the skilled worker pool. The traditional loose nature of construction projects where crews are hired and let go based on specific project phases and needs has also contributed to a stigma that construction work is not always stable.

“Construction, like any industry, pays people based on the value of the skills they bring to the table,” said Rolf Bax, chief human resources officer at career resource Resume.io. “It can be hard finding general laborers for sites because so many companies treat these people as disposable. If you make it known that people who want to learn new skills will be given an opportunity to do so, you will start to see more people applying.”

The Takeaway: We’ve seen many contractors shifting from traditional construction workflows to more modern, tech-savvy approaches, and in doing so, are building out new tech-enabled career paths that are starting to appeal to the next generations of professionals. Using these technologies is cutting the need for the number of skilled laborers in the field. However, skilled tradespeople are still in demand, and the more efforts made at a grassroots level to find and train these folks—and retain them in the construction organization—the better success contractors will have in overcoming labor challenges.

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