The quickly evolving field of construction tech is increasing demand for a new kind of construction worker, one with a comprehensive understanding of emerging technologies as well as the built environment.
Across all the skilled trades, a shortage of tech-focused workers is emerging alongside advancements in digitization. Leading construction companies are quickly introducing new roles that emphasize the need for workers with a mix of computational knowledge, project management skills and real-world understanding of the needs, challenges and realities of the construction site.
While today’s technology stack offers incredible solutions for upgrading the build process, improving site conditions and helping tradespeople work better, faster and more efficiently in the field, the industry is struggling to keep up with the demand for those with the skills and knowledge to manage and implement these tools successfully.
This introduces an opportunity to entice younger, more tech-savvy workers to the field. As builders turn to technology to increase productivity, improve site and safety conditions, and reduce the cost and timeline of construction, the modernization of construction processes will require a workforce ready to integrate their tech-focused knowledge and skill sets with industry strategy. This pivot places Gen Z and millennials in an advantageous position when competing for careers within the construction industry.
ConTech Creates New Roles
New roles that sit at the intersection of construction and tech are often created and defined by the tools and solutions currently transforming the build process.
For example, the adoption of building information management (BIM) and construction management software such as ProCore and AutoDesk has quickly become the standard for leading construction firms as it offers impressive benefits in the form of improved cost estimation, better project coordination and increased communication and collaboration throughout the life cycle of a project.
While the ability to view and access project and site information across multiple divisions of an organization is valuable, standardization and clarity of data must be ensured to gain maximum value from the use of BIM and construction management softwares—which means oversight by staff members skilled in data management, standardization and visualization are critical to effective implementation and use.
Likewise, OpenSpace (an AI-driven platform that records and tracks project progression via the use of cutting-edge, hardhat-mounted camera equipment) drastically improves construction site access and visibility and can help mitigate safety risks while reducing the cost of travel.
As demonstrated in a recent case study, the use of OpenSpace and other construction tech creates new roles, while eliminating time-consuming physical inspections.
Fieldwire takes another approach to reducing site visits by supporting more effective data sharing and communication. Each member of the project team (from foreman to architect to project manager) is invited to collaborate and share site-specific information in real time via a mobile-enabled digital platform.
A remotely monitored workflow streamlines the build process, supports detailed oversight and reporting, and opens managerial opportunities to staff less experienced in physical trades.
Labor Scarcity Emphasizes Need For Innovation
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index reported that 88% of contractors experienced difficulty in sourcing and hiring skilled workers. With a deepening work crisis bumping up against approval of the nation’s largest infrastructure bill to date, the construction industry needs to build smarter, not harder.
Construction tech offers opportunities to shift labor-intensive jobs into digitally centered roles. Construction developers and GCs can benefit from adopting ready-made, vendor-supplied technologies as they become more valuable, user-friendly and industry-relevant. Hiring tech-savvy employees to develop teams focused on digitization of the built environment, data modeling and project analytics is pivotal.
Those already focused on developing roles in construction innovation are ahead of the curve, and debating the nitty-gritty of their transitions. In a recent conversation moderated by Newmetrix CEO Joshua Kanner, construction professionals candidly discussed the need to weigh the onboarding and professional development of internal teams against the use of ready-made technologies and solutions beneficial to individual endeavors.
ConTech: Implementing Solutions
Obtaining buy-in from executive staff is a common obstacle in the implementation of construction tech. Maintaining focus on the metrics that matter most to your business can help construction innovation teams grow support. For many, this means gathering data on safety, finance, estimating, inventory management, scheduling and process efficiency.
Analyzing internal metrics and competencies can help identify pain points and areas warranting improvement. Once an area of need has been identified, it’s best to consider organizational fit alongside the ROI of available tools and solutions. Will implementation of your preferred solution require additional staffing, specialized training or significant alteration of your workflow and process? If so, it’s best to factor this into plans for deployment and begin preparations well in advance.
Though this may seem like a lot to consider, global adoption of AI-driven construction solutions is forecast to grow at a compounded annual rate of nearly 30%, with the market reaching $2.1 billion by 2026. Those figures are immensely promising for businesses and professionals focused on construction innovation, as well as for workers considering a career in construction tech.
Construction’s Growing Opportunity
Rose Hall recently declared the need to “make construction sexy again.” The deployment of innovative solutions designed to improve construction efficiency may attract an upcoming generation of workers interested in tech-focused roles, but only if the construction industry ensures these opportunities are available.
Digitization offers a wide range of opportunities for helping productivity and profits. We as an industry simply need to get the word out.
Read the article as published on Forbes here.