The Top 4 Challenges for the Construction Industry in 2021 and 2022
As the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, industries across the board face new challenges. With the rise of the Covid Delta variant, a renewed uncertainty regarding if businesses and industries are going to be required to “shutdown” again revives our economic anxieties.
Many businesses have shown that their workers can simply work from home. For example, tech giants such as Google and Facebook have extended their work-from-home policies indefinitely in the face of materializing Covid variants. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made news last year when he said that his employees could work at home “forever” if they wanted.
Unfortunately, for builders and contractors working from home is typically not an option—various building firms have looked into remote work in the pre-building stage—but construction is obviously an industry that requires workers to be in-person on the job site for the most part.
In this article, we will examine some of the challenges, as well as the solutions to these challenges, in the construction industry for this year and next.
1. Construction Worker Labor Shortages
Even before the disruption to the construction industry in 2019-2020, labor shortages were already a problem for general contractors. At the heart of this labor shortage is the fact that millennials and Gen-Z sometimes dismiss construction work as a viable occupation.
As the former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker remarked to an older civil engineer when he learned that Yale University had given up their Civil Engineering program: “The trouble with the United States recently is we spent several decades not producing many civil engineers and producing a huge number of financial engineers. And the result is crappy bridges and a crappy financial system.”
The same could be said about the construction industry. Poor financial institutions, and poor buildings has been the net result of the American economy’s collective decision to move away from the disciplines and trades that once made us great.
While we need to add more money to nonresidential construction projects to make up for the Covid-19 labor loss, we also need to spend more time going forward convincing America’s young people that construction is, as we well know, a noble profession.
Construction is, in fact, the perfect job for those who want to earn a great living without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a college degree. Many young people are completely unaware that specializing in a construction field earns a higher net pay per hour than many jobs that require a college diploma.
The future skilled workers in construction are out there; the construction industry simply ways to recruit qualified candidates.
Mobile Communications America (MCA) believes, in turn, that embracing new technologies (see below) will not only reduce costs and save time in the construction, but also encourage the younger generation to want to learn skilled construction trades–carpentry, brick masonry, elevator installers, glaziers, etc.
A large part of MCA’s commitment to the construction industry is a commitment to its future.
2. Rising Material Costs
Due to the recent reduction in production and increased housing demand, material costs in construction have risen at breakneck speed. Lumber and plywood prices have gone up 56% in the past year; copper and brass by more than 30%; steel by more than 10%; and precast concrete by more than 4%.
There are a number of ways that contractors can deal with the rise in material costs. They can write safeguards into contracts with clients against the possibility of rising material costs, employ alternative materials when available, and take on more modular construction projects.
Perhaps the best way, however, to offset the rise in materials is to embrace cost-saving measures on the construction site.
Implementing technological solutions can save construction firms considerable time and expense, thus making material overruns less severe.
Below, we will highlight some of the innovations MCA has to offer to the construction industry–innovations that, if fully implemented, will defray the significant recent rise in material costs in construction.
There are a number of technological solutions that contractors should consider to save money in the long run. The ideal solution to introducing cost-saving innovations is to rely on a suite of different technologies. You may consider the following MCA solutions:
- Upgrading your radio fleet and employing cloud-based data and communication software, automating your work tasks.
- Purchasing rugged laptops and tablets to assist your workforce in quickly implementing tasks and completing projects.
- Outfitting your equipment vehicles with communication devices to provide your team with the ability to complete jobs more efficiently and expertly.
- Employing a mobile internet “box” at the worksite or connected construction trailer.
These are but a few of a number of technology solutions that contractors and construction firms might consider.
Again, the best option for your particular construction firm may be adopting one, or several, solutions from MCA’s extensive portfolio of devices and systems for the industry.
4. Worker Safety
Construction workplace safety is not a new issue. Rather, it has always been an issue because the job can be especially dangerous. According to OSHA’s most recent report, 21.1% of workplace fatalities were in the field of construction.
Given the nature of the work, electrocution, injury from falling objects, and slips and falls from heights comprise the majority of construction job site injuries and fatalities. OSHA has a number of compliance guidelines that the construction industry is required to follow.
Beyond making sure that accidents don’t occur, however, when an accident does happen, it’s important to make sure your emergency response systems are in top working order.
When you’re involved in a new construction, you need to meet certain safety standards in order to gain a Certificate of Occupancy.
Having an external communication network to connect with first responders not only protects workers, but is a requirement for your building’s end users.
Additionally, you want to ensure that your building does not contain any dead zones, which can be solved by adding distributed cell spots throughout your structure during construction.
Mobile Communications has been a valued partner of our clients in the construction industry, and we will continue to be into the future.
When it comes to radios that keep workers on the jobsite in contact with their supervisors, The Connected Construction Trailer™ from our channel partners at USAT, and in-building cellular enhancement systems, among other solutions, MCA continues to innovate so that construction as an industry can continue to thrive.