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What's the impact of the construction industry labour shortage?

Last modified: 2022-11-24 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

It’s no longer a secret that the construction industry is facing a labour shortage, as many companies report a lack of labour to meet growing demands. With the industry itself booming in sectors such as residential housing, commercial properties and public work projects, the workforce necessary to take on these projects isn’t readily available. Since the construction industry labour force has decreased, what has been the impact?

Obviously, this problem can’t be fixed by the click of a button or the snap of a finger, but it’s important to bear in mind that it’s possible to take care of the issues that are created by this lack of labour. Let’s look at the problem a little more in depth.

What’s the impact of the construction industry sector labour shortage?

construction_What's the impact of the construction industry labour shortage?

Source: Pexels

Why is there a construction labour shortage?

During the mid-2000’s recession, it was reported that the construction industry lost around 2 million workers. Following this recession, many workers never returned to their respective jobs. On top of this, attracting new folks to the industry has proven to be quite a difficult task. Despite the surplus of high paying positions in this field, young workers are seeking work in sectors such as social services and healthcare in place of skilled trades. Further, the existing workforce is reaching the point of retirement, as about 32% of construction industry workers are over the age of 45.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t made things easier, with 80% of construction companies reporting that they’re having trouble finding skilled labourers. It can’t be denied that the labour shortage is a huge hurdle, as it’s resulting in a workforce stretched very thin, and this causes project delays and increased costs. Let’s examine the challenges the labour shortage poses on the industry.

What challenges are construction firms facing?

Let’s first discuss one of the most important areas affected by the labour shortage in the construction industry: worker safety. Many company owners and workers are concerned about the safety risk posed by lack of labour on a job site. It’s becoming more likely for new, untrained workers to be injured within the first year, and with less people to refer to for help or support, the possibilities for injuries and mishaps continue to rise. Fatalities on job sites have increased, and safety is becoming a top concern for many construction companies. 

Another major challenge that the industry is facing is a decrease in quality and productivity. Due to a lack of skilled labourers available, including project managers and supervisors, there are less effective management strategies, generally in the early stages of a project. This lack of direction and management can lead to costly delays as well as poor initiation and final construction. The construction sector is a highly competitive market and thus, contracting companies simply cannot afford to put inexperienced or underqualified workers in these positions, as it’ll cost them more time, energy, and money in the long run. So, how can we work towards solving these issues?

construction sector planning

Source: Pexels

Methods to mitigate the construction industry labour shortage

Here are some methods to consider in order to deal with the current construction industry labour shortage:

Attract new skilled labourers

In order to attract new and younger skilled workers, construction firms need to consider ways to compete with other booming industries. This can include offering things such as competitive pay, benefits, educational support, paid time-off and so forth. Research suggests that younger workers will leave a construction firm if they find they can make 25-50 cents more elsewhere. If you’re not able to offer a competitive salary, consider a plan that includes profit sharing. 

Another path to consider is investing in partnerships with local high schools, trade schools, and community colleges in order to establish relationships with younger talent. Paid time off is an additional method to show new employees that you’re supportive of their need for proper work-life balance. 

Training and development

Competitive wages and benefits are one way to attract new employees, but the smartest companies understand that keeping them requires more incentive. Retaining the best workers is key to growing one’s business and thus, it’s important to show you’re invested in them. Training and on-the-job development initiatives are key factors in attracting and keeping new workers. Offering safety training, skill-sharing and development sessions shows your workers that you want them to grow and develop their skills alongside your business. Not to mention, consistent on-site safety training demonstrates that the company they’re working for cares about them and their wellbeing. 

Wanting your employees to learn new skills and leave safe at the end of the day is a huge incentive for many young workers. Lastly, consistent skill-sharing and updated safety protocol workshops can help a company's bottom line by reducing company workplace injuries and costly accidents.

construction skyline_What's the impact of the construction industry labour shortage?

Source: Pexels

New technologies

If you’re still struggling to hire new talent, it’s important to work with the resources that are available to you. There are plenty of smart technologies on the market for construction firms, including construction software that can reduce costs and speed up your work schedule. These programs work to produce less waste, increase accuracy, minimize the use of material resources and free up labour for other tasks. Drones are becoming a way of the future in the construction sector, as they can collect data and survey workflow to determine or monitor areas that require improvement and efficiency. Drone surveillance on job sites can also lead to increased worker safety. 

For larger companies, robots on job sites are becoming more commonplace. Robots are being used to complete repetitive tasks including brick laying and rebar tying, as they can be swifter and more accurate than humans. Not only this, but autonomous equipment is being used for heavy lifting including jobs such as excavation and grading. As a construction company small or larger, do plenty of research into the construction software or hardware options available to you.

Even with a labour shortage, there are many ways to attract and keep new construction sector workers. In that regard, we hope you've found this article informative and helpful.

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