The construction industry will need to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet the demand for labor, according to a model developed by Associated Builders and Contractors.
Yet, finding, training, and hiring workers is a struggle. How do you hire younger workers to come into a specialized messy field?
In an industry that has been slow to adopt technology, construction leadership consultant, Wally Adamchik*, president of Firestarter Speaking and Consulting, suggests that while “buildings are built by people” there is a great deal of opportunity to leverage technology for recruiting, training, and in the field efficiencies.
Wally goes on to explain, “A foundational issue that has been inherent in technology adoption and development is that most construction founders are non-technical people. Add that to the fact that technology in this industry hasn’t always been best in class and individuals in the field don’t have the training to support their learning and, well, you’ve got a group of individuals who are hesitant to invest and leverage software and programs”
However, incorporating technology and automation into the construction industry is a way to not only encourage the adoption of technology but to leverage technology to recruit individuals and provide leadership and career development.
3 Ways Construction Technology Can Help Recruit and Train
Virtual Reality is the creation of a complete simulated environment. While it can be used for training purposes. It can also be utilized to recruit. Image putting someone in a virtual reality simulator and allowing them to play around on large equipment. Then when their curiosity is piqued saying “hey, let’s go outside and I’ll let you experience the real thing.”
Oculus headsets can also be used to show the complexity and work involved in construction. While clunky a few years ago, image pong (if you’re reading this and don’t know about pong, click here), the ability to put on a headset and show an individual how a piece of equipment works or to train someone on how to use a piece of equipment before they use it in reality, gives companies the ability to expand skillsets and to train for specialized roles within the industry.
Virtual Reality has also been demonstrated to teach soft skills faster. In the construction world, you want to train your team to not only know how to do their job but to be able to grow in their career. This means learning how to train and lead others.
In a study conducted by PwC, they found that “virtual reality learners got up to speed four times faster than classroom learners and two times faster than e-learners.”
Augmented Reality is entwining and imposing computer images onto reality. The utilization of Augmented Reality in construction can provide onsite workers with real-time information. In turn, this can save workers from making mistakes that end up costing the project money and running over time projections.
Our CEO, Trent Kocurek, has been working with Augmented Reality in order to incorporate it into our tech abilities. You can read his two-part blog post on the app he built using Augmented reality GolfAR here and here to get an understanding of how it might be used in your organization.
Custom Mobile and Web Applications
This is my favorite example of how software can improve an organization. The utilization of software as a communication tool internally and externally will save money, frustration, waste of resources, and time.
A large construction client was having to call crews when work was delayed or they needed them to go to a different worksite. The client estimated it took up to four hours to contact everyone. This meant they had people at different places at the wrong time. They were paying them for showing up and there was chaos. With the development of their app, they can have their crews check the app first thing in the morning and instantaneously give instructions to everyone!
The same holds true for their external vendors. A cement truck needs a certain amount of time to mix a certain type of cement for a particular job. If that job gets canceled due to weather or the inability to get everyone there that needs to be there, it can take them up to 3 hours to notify the cement vendor. At that point, it is too late. The cement is mixed and will have to be thrown away. With the application, vendors can be notified of any changes and make adjustments. Our client believes this will save the organization approximately $500k a year in labor and supply costs!
Using Construction Technology to Recruit
Yes, construction is messy. But, it is way past the days of the Flintstones in terms of tools and such. Using social media to tell the stories of the individuals who are building the houses, office towers and such makes it possible for people to see themselves in this field. The power of video and the use of online sources expand the reach and the understanding of what is possible to do in the field. Some companies go so far as to have signing days where they highlight the individuals who are coming on board, and who are choosing construction as a field of work. Incorporating technology into recruiting as well as into the actual job attracts individuals who are seeking a career. These individuals have grown up with technology and understand how it can be utilized to improve by making safer and more efficient the industry as a whole.
As we move forward, incorporating and leveraging technology will be critical in attracting talent to the construction industry.
How can we help you?
*Wally Adamchik is dedicated to making better construction leaders. He worked with his father and brother in construction in NYC before becoming the mascot (that's right, he was the Leprechaun) at the University of Notre Dame. He served as an officer in the Marines and was deployed around the world. He is the author of "No Yelling: The Nine Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You Must Know to Win in business." And of "Construction Leadership from A to Z; 26 words to lead by."
He is a certified speaking professional and certified management consultant. Contact Wally@beafirestarter.com.