Labor Shortage In Construction: Is It The Next Biggest Hurdle After The 2008 Recession?
For many decades, the construction sector has been the supporting pillars of many developed nations such as the United States of America, United Kingdom and the GCC. . The post-pandemic world has no doubt created scrupulous hurdles in the construction sector. The search for skilled labor within the industry has become an increasing concern world-wide. Many factors such as housing complexities, immigration policies, lack of younger workers and the rising costs within companies have all contributed to this point. As reported by the 2020 Construction Outlook Survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, 81% of construction firms have currently hit road-blocks when it comes to hiring skilled professionals, with 72% of global firms expecting this to be the biggest obstacle for the year.
The increase in construction delays have led to many unresolved projects and further stagnancy among ongoing projects. It is no surprise that companies rely on their professionals more than most; however the looming skill gaps have initiated a significant economic downturn. In order to tackle these issues and accelerate an alternative route, it is important to understand the factors that have initiated this stagnancy.
Experts have outlined some of the factors to be shortage in housing to be the most prominent cause followed by retirement, disconnect between safety and employment protocols and a shortened pool of emerging young workers to step in.
“Combining retirement and expansion demands, the construction industry will need to recruit close to 59,650 workers over the coming decade” - BuildForce, Canada
From a global perspective, U.K, U.S.A and Canada have seen the greater end of this situation. The United Kingdom has reported that nearly 27,000 construction projects could face the consequences of these shortages through delays and halts. With Canada losing a chunk of their labor workforce to retirement, the nation has experience that the rate of retirement exceeds that of the workforce entry. Furthermore, the increase in construction costs such as building materials and wage have relatively effect the intake of untrained workers.
As a result, even the portions of young or inexperienced workers that do enter the industry are received limited on-the-job training. Professionals in the industry have also outlined the importance of risk-management in such cases in order to overcome further downfalls.
With all precedents considered, it is important to consider factors that would inherently minimize these consequences. Many have decided that cutting-edge technology and smart construction is a necessity now more than ever. Instilling this within current and any upcoming projects can quickly resolve the scarcity of labor.
The right investments in suitable technology can have a significant impact on corporate efficiency. In the long run however, it would be an added plus to invest in current employees, increase their skill set, instigate on the job training programs for fresh intakes and make an intentional effort to reduce onboarding costs. Although invest in current employees may not take over the need for new employees, it could however, shine a light on the outcome of current circumstances.