The United States is experiencing a huge shortage of construction labor, which we already mentioned a lot of times in our previous blogs. Yahoo Finance even pointed out that there’s an estimate of 350,000 unfilled construction jobs nationwide. We’ve pointed out some of the major reasons for the shortage and we’ve also recommended some solutions to bridge the gap. But this time, we’re going to delve deeper into the problem and look into managing your construction project with fewer crew members.
Most Difficult Construction Role to Hire
Labor workers aren’t the most difficult to hire. There are certain roles important to the operation that keeps the industry hanging because of their shortage.
First, experts say that pipe trades are some of the hardest to come by in some states in the U.S. Firms then try to make up for the role by doing the job themselves or some would take sanitary sewers for granted.
Meanwhile, in other construction sites, they find electrical workers experienced in Substation and Transmission line construction harder to come by because it is a specialized industry.
And still, for others, skilled labor is their major problem. Young people seem to have very little interest in taking construction roles and when all the skilled workers today finally reach their retirement age, then there will be no one to take on those skilled labor tasks. This is why we suggested – and according to studies too – using technology like AR, VR, AI, BIM, Construction project management software, and other digital technologies to attract the millennials to join the construction industry.
How Labor Shortage Affects Management
People assume that it’s easy to assemble a crew member to get the project done. But the problem is not really the number because technology can easily make up for the shortage. The real problem is the lack of skilled workers.
A competent workforce is a necessary condition for profitable work. Profit can be eaten up quickly when projects aren’t being constructed by specialized tradesmen with proper training. This leaves startups having problems fulfilling contracts and disappointing clients. General contractors then have to deal with the issue by making its key players like engineers take on jobs they aren’t supposed to do. Consequently, these key players tend to get tired and just quit their positions.
Prefab Modular Construction as a Solution to Labor Shortage
One of the strategies used by construction firms to survive the labor shortage is to use prefabricated and modular materials. Prefab construction is a viable option that can not only reduce the impact of labor shortages but also reduce the overall project cost in many instances. Some phases can be assembled in the factory from plumbing to electrical and will be installed on the site using cranes. Flooring and wall finishes are other parts that can be prefabricated and pre-assembled in the factory.
This process reduces costs, simplifies the highly complex procedures, and increases time savings. But while prefab and modular construction had rave reviews from some parties, not everyone was so supportive of the concept.
Some firms think that when parts of the project are sent to the factory for mass production, the project is losing quality. Some experts believe that it’s still better to work on the hiring and retention process to sort out the problem in labor shortage than shift to prefab construction where they can’t see how the parts are made, hence doubtful of the quality of the product. They can’t be confident enough and they worry that problems will arise that will lead them to face litigation. Furthermore, they think that they lose their beautiful legacy when they let the factory handle the production.
Technology’s Real Effect in Construction
Technology is taking bigger and bigger roles in the construction industry. It has been giving a big contribution in bridging the gap brought about by labor shortage in the construction industry. It has greatly increased the efficiency in the construction industry. But the adoption of technology in the industry has been slower compared to others. Part of the reason is that technologies designed for construction can be costly. But not all.
The 3D printing tech can cost a bit of a fortune and so does robotics. Augmented reality, when used on a large scale, can also turn out to be expensive. But the benefits you get out of these technologies can’t be denied. Their ability to make the work lighter allows crew members to work on other tasks where there is no assigned personnel. They also speed up the work so that even if there are fewer crew members, the project can still be finished on time.
There are other technologies you can capitalize on like digital tech. The use of BIM can help discover conflicts within the building before construction even starts and also lead to more accurate bidding from general contractors and subcontractors. Furthermore, smartphones now serve as personal computers in our pockets. While we looked at phones as a convenient way of communicating with others in the field, mainly through phone calls, it now serves as a channel for even more convenient communication.
Digital technology effectively leverages the power of the smartphone by putting software in the small screen. Construction project management software like Pro Crew Schedule has made planning, workload, work progress, equipment, estimating, payroll, job costing, and disputes much easier to manage. How does this help fill the gap?
Construction project management software, like we just mentioned, makes managing the whole project more effective. This way, leaders are able to strategize on how to distribute workload among the existing number of crew members so they can fulfill the contract. It also helps them see parts of the project where they may need the services of construction subcontractors and equipment to take over roles that are missing in the firm.
We’re approaching a technical revolution in construction that will allow work to be done more efficiently and economically. Construction is data-driven and as tech advances in the industry, contractors who embrace it are bound to go up the competition.
Having a working knowledge of the technology in your field is vital. Technology will continue to advance and be increasingly important to our industry. The only issue now is the crew members to learn the technologies so they can use them for their advantage.
Construction Project Management Software to Handle Labor Shortage
As mentioned, construction software can immensely improve construction efficiency, allowing managers to do more with less.
Over 50 percent of construction firms are having trouble recruiting labor workers. But with a management program, managers might just be able to come up with a formula that can divide the work among crew members and technologies available on the site.
That said, project managers need to be able to get the most results from the least effort. Pro Crew Schedule has convenient features that turn daily reports into essential data that can help leaders manage the project more efficiently. Specifically, it can:
- Make construction leaders more effective supervising members
- Streamline construction reporting
- Improve safety
All these can lead to finishing the project on time and within budget even if there are lesser members.
By quickly generating customizable reports, your construction project management software can help you recognize the most important aspects of the project so you will know how much labor is needed there. That way you can plan tasks and schedules more efficiently using the available resources you have including human labor and equipment. Then target the next most important phase until you reach the least important ones. This kind of targeting will help you meet deadlines even if you are short in people.
Using a web-based construction management software, project managers can also share and communicate about blueprints, schedules, and pressing needs more easily. This means correction can be made immediately hence minimizing delays.
It’s indeed important that you fill in the roles you need for the project. But if you are not able to, you should adjust and wisely use the resources available and your web-based construction management software can help you with this seemingly difficult task.