Last updated: September 28, 2020
Staying up to date can be tough in any industry, but it can be especially challenging in construction because the industry is so complex, fast-paced, and often, rather than a comfortable office, many employees spend a majority of their time at job sites.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources, compiled by some of the top experts in their fields to help you stay up to date on market trends, HR, regulations and laws, marketing, technology, and other issues that affect the construction industry. I’ll get into that list in a minute, but for now, I want to address some of the pressing matters that USAMDT’s clients in the construction industry have voiced.
Finding skilled labor
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reports that 53% of builders responding to their survey said they could not find enough qualified construction professionals to fill open positions as estimators, engineers, and supervisors. Many skilled laborers left the industry after the 2008 recession. And, labor diversification across multiple generations of workers is currently presenting a hiring challenge in these areas due to sharp differences in outlook, work ethic, attitude and behavior between employees of different generations. According to a PwC report, Millennials can be expected to be 80% of the worldwide workforce by 2030. Many have little or no interest or experience in the construction industry. This obstacle increases project complexity multiplies risks in areas of quality, delivery delays and employee safety.
The rate of fatal injuries in the construction industry exceeds the national average for all other industries combined. OSHA cites the most common safety hazards facing construction workers as: falling from heights, scaffold collapse, electric shock and arc flash/arc blast, repetitive motion injuries, trench collapse, and failure to use proper personal protective equipment. Strategies to help improve worker safety now emphasize a combination of increasing safety training, updating safety equipment, improving communications, and ensuring drug testing for employees.
Statistically higher drug abuse
Drug abuse is a significant problem in the U.S. construction industry, costing construction companies billions of dollars each year, from lost productivity, and from worker compensation claims and other costs of accidents. Although use of alcohol and some kinds of drugs has reportedly decreased, in the Millennial generation, abuse of opioids, marijuana and prescription drugs has increased. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) data (corroborated by the U.S. Department of Labor), indicates that drug use in the construction industry is the second highest nationally, at 16.5%.
Adding the problem of the industry’s already comparatively high risk of accidents due to the hazards inherent at construction work sites, is the mental or physical performance impairment of ability of some employees due to drug use at work. Prevalent drug use at construction sites is also suspected as a primary factor in the high construction industry fatality rates of 9.8 per 100,000 full-time workers.
Additionally, job site drug use results in tardiness, absenteeism, misuse of sick days to extend weekends, lack of focus or coordination, failure to meet deadlines or quotas, careless work, forgotten tasks, behavioral problems, poor work relationships, aggression., as well as the lack of ability and experience of replacements (for absentees), impacts safety of all employees on the construction sites.
Low productivity and profitability
Low barriers to entry in construction bidding saturates the market with competitors, thereby shrinking profit margins. Stagnant productivity levels in construction labor compound the risk of insufficient profitability. Other businesses across the industrial sector have yielded significant increases in labor productivity. But, construction industry productivity levels have remained flat over the past 50 years. Why?
The Construction Owners Association of America (COAA) has produced research indicating that 63% of labor time on large construction project job sites is spent paid traveling to and from the work site, waiting for equipment and materials, stopping early for breaks, and on planning how to do work. These drains on productivity show in severely narrowed profit margins, preventing investment in critical technology and better practices.
Design complexity compounds the problem of narrow profit margins. As building designs become grander and call for greater and greater efficiency, builders are struggling to keep up with ever more demanding requirements. Reportedly, an Accenture study indicates that only 30% of large construction projects in the energy sector are completed on budget, and a mere 15% of the projects are delivered on schedule.
Building the path forward…
The construction industry is at a pivotal moment.
Digital technologies present new opportunities to increase individual project performance and overall company profitability through vastly improved processes of managing productivity, skilled labor shortages, and environmental sustainability issues. Digitized project management systems will enable companies to more efficiently eliminate waste and mitigate adverse impacts of job site contingencies. Application of manufacturing best practices across construction project management systems will further help builders achieve much more reliable outcomes for their customers and improve their margins. Finally, because companies across the construction industry must attract and employ Millennials in order to overcome the growing labor shortage, employers must adopt effective strategies to counteract this generation’s drug usage trends, including comprehensive drug testing program that includes pre-employment, random, and post-accident drug testing.
The key to success in the coming years will be to stay up to date on this rapidly evolving industry.
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting on your own because I’ve compiled a list of leaders, both individuals and companies, in the construction industry. Some work directly in construction while some work in other industries that specialize in serving the construction industry. By following these forward-thinking leaders, you will be able to keep up with changes in the industry more efficiently.
Construction industry leaders to follow on Twitter
- ABC of Florida
- ABC Green
- ABC Government Affairs
- ABC Florida Gulf Coast
- ABC National
- ABC Safety
- Builders’ Show
- Equipment Today
- Steve Cona
- Contractor Talk
- Construction Dive
- Construction Executive
- Construction Today
- Custom Home Magazine
- Robert Dietz
- Hanley Wood
- Helmets to Hardhats
- The Jobsite
- Jeremy Knauff
- Multifamily Executive
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- NAHB Remodelers
- Professional Builder
- Remodeling Magazine
- Riggins Construction
- Larry Stewart
- The Who’s Who in Building & Construction
- Scott Wolfe Jr