4 Methods to Combat Construction Labor Shortages

by Matthew Sprague   |   April 13, 2022

Within the construction industry, resource shortages of both materials and labor have capital project owners and business owners concerned about staffing current projects, and the availability of skilled professionals for future infrastructure projects. From high level executives, project managers, office support staff, to skilled construction workers and day laborers, the demand exceeds the supply of personnel with the experience and talent to fill open positions within the construction industry.

Will Construction Labor Shortages Continue Through 2022?

Project and business owners will need to hire “thousands of additional workers” each year, from 2022 and over the next several years, to “satisfy the continuing demand for homebuilding and private nonresidential structures,” as well as projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (ref).

The problem is, employees with the proper skill sets have been difficult to find, despite firms offering higher wages and attractive benefits. “The pandemic and political responses to it are limiting the size of the workforce, leading to labor shortages that are as severe as they were in 2019 when demand for construction was more robust (ref).”

Many firms and project owners are experiencing delayed projects, exceeding project budgets, and the inability to perform to contract requirements because they are taking on additional projects with not enough skilled labor available.

Hard Hats

In 2021, 61% of firms said their projects were being delayed because of workforce shortages, and 89% of contractors reported having a hard time finding craft workers (ref).

What the Statistics Say: The Struggle for Skilled Construction Workers

With the passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in November 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021, the stage is set for increased infrastructure spending for 2022 and into the next several years.

Due to the projected increase in infrastructure spending, in 2022, the demand for construction professionals is expected to be 650,000 more than what is typically required in the normal pace of hiring (ref). However, despite the increased demand and availability of funding to hire qualified employees, 89% of firms seeking to fill craft positions are reporting having difficulties in fulfilling open positions, and 86% of firms hoping to fill salaried positions are also struggling to fill the roles (ref).

The challenge for owners of infrastructure projects will be attracting talent and filling job vacancies as the need for construction workers rises, and having to get creative with solutions to labor shortages.

In reality, many owners will have to do without additional staff—ultimately, owners will be taking on more infrastructure projects, and expected to execute these projects to industry standards with the same resources.

Construction Labor
Construction Labor
Construction Labor

Leveraging Technology is the Solution.

Embracing digital transformation as a solution to labor shortages is not just a concept, but is e-Builder’s area of expertise. e-Builder Enterprise is a solution for infrastructure owners, providing project management software to support the project lifecycle from capital planning to operations.

When it comes to leveraging technology to address labor shortages, here are a few things you can expect when implementing e-Builder’s project management software:

1. Standardize Processes, Save on Labor

Owners who integrate digital construction management software like e-Builder Enterprise leverage technology to create standardized and consistent design and construction processes across the board.

Measuring performance progress and project financials is standardized, reducing the amount of lift required to track performance and report results. Using e-Builder Enterprise’s tracking and reporting capabilities, owners can retire manual processes for tracking down contracts, filing actual paperwork, managing drawing revisions, and figuring out who is holding up the latest RFI.

Instead, employers are able to support their employees as they level up their skill sets, helping to fill much needed hiring gaps.

Construction Labor Shortage

2. Mitigate Risk with Effective Decision Making

Planning labor workload using e-Builder’s reporting and predictive systems allows for confident decision-making and more accurate workload predictions.

When data is shared effectively and efficiently among stakeholders, decisions can be made quickly, with intelligent insight based on actual project data. Owners appreciate this aspect of e-Builder, as it allows them to make informed decisions regarding schedule, materials, and labor.

Decisions can be made faster, keeping the project moving along with confidence.

3. Track Materials for Better Projections

With supply chain shortages plaguing the nation and no projected resolution to the shortages, along with 93% of contractors experiencing rising material prices (ref) due to supply chain issues, digitizing capital improvement project financial efforts is crucial for staying on top of materials management.

Digitizing these efforts and integrating your existing financial software with e-Builder Enterprise, allows owners to track the budget and cash flow implications of a project schedule with accurate, connected data to plan ahead for supply chain-related complications, allowing the focus to be on managing labor to support the project as material does arrive.

4. Reduce rework

Historically, construction projects involve 10-20% rework, consisting of rectifying work not done according to specifications or industry standards. Digital construction technology has been proven to reduce rework by up to 50%, saving labor required for rework efforts.

With e-Builder, owners can leverage technology to streamline project delivery, measure program performance, and ensure infrastructure budgets are effectively and efficiently spending taxpayer money, providing confidence in your BIL or ARPA funded infrastructure project.

Key Topics Covered: Construction Project Management

About the Author

Matthew Sprague
Sr. Product Marketing Manager
+