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Managing construction industry labor shortage

construction industry labor shortage

Although it’s a positive that the overall unemployment rate in America remains low, an unexpected side effect is that it makes it more difficult to find skilled workers in certain industries, such as manufacturing and the construction industry.

In an article for the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), Rose Hoyle, the strategic operations manager for Risk Engineering for AXL XL’s North America Construction group, says the shortage resulted from, “perfect storm of low supply due to downsizing from the recession, experienced workers aging-out, and lack of interest from the upcoming generations, as well as the high demand of the current construction boom that spans various market sectors simultaneously.”

One of Hoyle’s solutions is to look at adopting technology into construction projects. In addition to improving efficiency, technology may make the industry more appealing to younger workers while leading to worker retention by making the job of older workers easier.

Julia Cilia, in an article in Forbes, agrees that technology may be a solution for addressing labor shortages, focusing on the viability of construction robots.

“From speaking to contractors, I found that they would be willing to adopt technology or hire a robotics sub-contractor if there was proof that the robotic option could drastically reduce costs on their project,” says Cilia. 

The construction industry has historically been slow to adopt technology, though recent years have shown an increase in the use of technology for project management systems and modular housing.

Adopting technology to lower the impact of labor shortages isn’t the only solution. Developing mentorships and apprenticeships is another potential solution. 

“Newer workers benefit from the vast experience of the more senior workers, and the more experienced workers can expand and possibly extend their careers by shifting away from the more physically demanding roles,” says Hoyle.

Many companies have increased their recruiting and training efforts by interacting with high schools, community colleges, trade schools, and other career resources. 

Kraus Anderson Construction, as reported in AreaDevelopment Magazine, “works with the Associated General Contractors of America’s (AGC) local industry advocate to reach out to potential candidates through trade shows, job fairs, and visits to high schools and technical colleges in the area.”

While adopting technology and increasing recruitment strategies may help to increase the construction industry labor force, having qualified construction managers able to address these issues is vital to the future of the industry.

Capitol students studying construction management take courses in project management, construction planning and scheduling, management of field operations, and business communications to ensure they are prepared for responding to and addressing labor issues. Students also take courses in unmanned and autonomous systems, with the ability to take additional electives in this area.

To learn more about Capitol’s degree programs in Construction Management and Critical Infrastructure, contact