How the construction industry is leveraging technology to attract new talent

There’s a global shortage of construction labor worldwide, but companies that embrace technology are finding it easier to recruit from a younger talent pool.

There’s no way around it: construction has not always been perceived as the sexiest industry. But lately, it's been struggling more than ever to appeal to new talent. Fortunately, companies integrating technology into their business are not only finding an increase in productivity, but are also recruiting more effectively from the talent pool.

The construction industry’s recruitment problem

Like most epidemics, construction’s labor shortage is multifaceted. The 2008-2011 recession kicked off a major exodus from the industry, with construction workers forced to find work elsewhere as more than  2.3 million industry professionals lost their jobs. Even with new building projects booming, today an estimated 404,000 construction jobs remain vacant as a result of that three year downturn. 

The construction workforce is also getting older on average, with less replenishment taking place than needed. In fact, workers aged 55 and over constitute one fourth of the construction workforce, up from about one fifth only a decade ago. And despite Baby Boomers retiring in droves, the industry hasn’t found a way to fully overhaul its hiring process and attract new talent, leaving a noticeable absence globally. This has led to further issues, like an increase in cost of labor, while projects are taking longer to complete. 

While millennials and now Generation Z workers are steadily entering the workforce,  they generally don’t feel motivated to look to the construction industry as an option. Today’s young workers were brought up on tablets, smartphones, and touchscreens, and they view the construction industry as dated -- a poor match with their skills and interests..

As a result,  construction companies embracing technology are having an easier time solving the tricky problem of labor shortages, from attracting new workers to keeping them on board for the long haul.

How construction software is helping attract the best talent

Construction software offers obvious benefits to those actively involved in building projects, from streamlining the project from beginning to end to avoiding unnecessary delays caused by human error. But the incorporation of cutting-edge technology is also showing the talent pool that construction doesn’t have to be anyone’s plan B. By leveraging technologies like 3D modeling and 3D printing, flying drones, and of course, artificial intelligence, construction is proving to be an attractive option for potential talent eager to put their tech skills to use. 

“Our young workforce has grown up around computers and technology for their entire life,” says Mike MacBean, Director of Preconstruction at Build Group, which recently used ALICE Technologies’ construction simulation and optimization solutions for their 5M project in San Francisco. “Finding solutions within our business that are relatable for this younger workforce is essential for attracting and retaining talent.” By incorporating the knowledge base and experience of their older talent with the tech-savvyness of younger workers attracted by the opportunity to get their hands on cutting-edge technology, the project ultimately became a powerful example of what happens when construction embraces tech. 

"Our young workforce has grown up around computers and technology for their entire life"

Mike MacBean Director of Preconstruction at Build Group

Technologies like ALICE can also help improve the onsite working experience for laborers and management alike, with greater transparency on project planning instilled from the get-go. 

Just because the construction industry is so well-established does not mean that project managers need to stick to only what has worked in the past. Technology is here to align every aspect of building not only with the present, but also to lead the way towards the future. 

And when digital natives witness the industry embracing the kind of technology they were brought up on, it allows them to see construction for what it really is: a fulfilling career track in the trades that is justifiably the plan A for many in the talent pool.

Blog photo courtesy of Ferris State University.

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