Can Tech Tackle the Talent Deficit?

For decades, the construction industry has faced a steadily increasing struggle to attract and retain talent, but smart companies are recognizing that technology can be a big part of the solution.

The lack of appeal among younger people – often driven by misconceptions – along with recessions, the pandemic and other factors have shrunk the available construction labor pool. Everyone from skilled tradespeople to CEOs are becoming harder to find. At the same time, the volume of work available and needed is on the rise, particularly in infrastructure sectors. In some cases, contractors are passing on lucrative well-funded projects because they simply don’t have the resources to complete them.

Long-term solutions to construction labor challenges will be multi-faceted and take time to bear results. In the short term, most companies are actively enacting strategies to maintain or increase their workforce, and technology is at the forefront of those efforts. These companies understand that technology clearly allows them to do more with the same number of people. To the extent they can grow their workforce, it will also enable them to increase revenue and improve profitability.

Technology is also emerging as an important recruiting and retention tool and a way to differentiate a company from its competitors in a tight labor market. Employees and potential employees, especially younger ones, are drawn to contractors that provide high-tech tools. In construction, that increasingly means software applications that make it easier to excel at satisfying, hands-on production and problem solving while minimizing paperwork and administrative headaches.

Doing More With Less

The key to doing more with fewer people is performing tasks as efficiently as possible and doing them right the first time. Nothing diminishes productivity like rework. Any technology that improves the efficiency and productivity of estimators, field managers, truck drivers and equipment mechanics is significant.

The construction process starts with estimating. Since experienced estimators are one of the hardest talents to find in the current market, completing as many quality estimates as possible per estimator is vitally important. This is an area where specialized estimating software pays for itself almost instantly.

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About the Author

Herb Brownett, CCIFP

Herb Brownett, CCIFP, is the President of Brownett & Associates, LLV, a construction financial management consulting firm in Philadelphia, PA.

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