From healthcare to food services, nearly every industry has been impacted by serious labor shortages in the last year. In construction, these shortages are nothing new, but how the industry is addressing them is changing.
So, what exactly is the state of the construction labor market today, and what are firms doing to recruit qualified workers?
Each year, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Autodesk survey a broad cross-section of construction firms to gather insights into today’s workforce. The 2022 Autodesk and AGC Workforce Survey sheds light on current workforce trends and what firms are doing to respond.
Here’s a recap of this year’s survey results and top findings.
The workforce shortage is still severe
The survey found that overall, construction firms are still struggling to recruit employees. Ninety-three percent of respondents say they have open positions that they’re trying to fill and 91% (up slightly from 90% in 2021) indicate they are struggling to fill at least some of these roles. This issue is particularly pronounced among craft positions, which make up the bulk of construction work on jobsites.
The top reasons behind hiring struggles in construction
As for why firms are having trouble filling their job openings, the majority of respondents—77% according to survey results—report candidates lack the required skills for these roles.
Meanwhile, 23% of firms say potential employees need flexible work schedules or remote work options, and 21% say that candidates report having difficulties getting reliable transportation to and from the jobsite.
Supply chain problems are also impacting projects
The AGC study also found most firms (92%) are experiencing project delays. And while the labor shortage is certainly a contributing factor, supply chain issues are the main culprit behind stalled projects.
Eighty-two percent of firms cite material shortages as the top reason for project delays, and 66% report delays due to worker shortages.
Glass half full: there are plenty of opportunities for all
Though trends surrounding the labor shortage may look dire on paper, there are some very promising figures when it comes to new recruitment and retention strategies in the industry.
Survey results indicate that firms have an incredibly strong need for qualified workers, which means new and existing construction professionals have a lot more opportunities to learn, grow, and advance their careers.
Even better news: construction companies are levelling up their recruitment practices and compensation packages to keep up with today’s modern workforce needs.
Firms are increasing their pay rates
In response to the labor shortage, the majority of construction firms (86%) have raised the base pay rates for workers. Additionally, 45% are offering incentives and bonuses, while 24% of respondents report creating more attractive benefits packages.
All these improvements mean that those who choose to work in construction can do so with confidence knowing that they can make a good living.
Taking steps to engage younger generations
More and more construction companies are waking up to the fact that the future of the industry lies in our youth. That’s why firms are increasingly taking steps to engage younger generations.
Fifty-one percent of survey respondents say they’ve gotten involved in career-building programs at the high school, college, and technical school level in order to encourage students to consider a career in construction.
Meanwhile, 39% of respondents say they’ve started implementing online and social media tactics—such as using Instagram Live—to reach a new generation of applicants.
These steps give firms the opportunity to get in front of younger audiences, thus increasing the industry’s visibility among Gen Z applicants and beyond.
Better internal training programs
Those already working in the construction industry now have more opportunities to enhance and develop their skills.
According to our research, 47% of firms are increasing their training and professional development budgets, while 25% are enhancing their online and video training capabilities. Some companies (16%) report using augmented and virtual reality to train workers.
As technology adoption continues to expand, we can expect these figures to grow in the coming years. That’s why construction companies that haven’t embraced tech to enhance their training programs must do so immediately if they want to stay competitive.
The need for tech-savvy workers
This year’s survey results also highlight the important role that tech plays in helping firms navigate the labor shortage.
Eighty-seven percent of firms in the survey say that employees need to have digital technology skills to be successful.
As for whether or not new employees are meeting these expectations, the survey results are mixed. Just 7% of respondents report that nearly all new hires are prepared, while 32% say that most new recruits are prepared.
Evidently, there’s some work to be done to ensure that employees have the tech skills required to succeed in their roles. Candidates must engage in training and development activities in order to possess the know-how to thrive in today’s modern landscape.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of opportunities to do just that.
Bridging the divide
The construction sector is in an interesting place right now, as far as the labor market is concerned. Companies are struggling to recruit new workers, but this also means there are plenty of career and growth opportunities for those who choose to enter and stay in this field.
Yes, the industry is facing some difficulties; however, there’s never been a better time to work in construction.
This is something Autodesk fully believes in, which is why we’ve launched several learning and development opportunities geared towards construction professionals. Whether you’re just starting your career journey or you’re a seasoned pro looking to upskill, you’ll find tremendous value in the following initiatives:
Autodesk Construction Learning Center. This always-on portal features on-demand courses and live training on how to use and get the most out of Autodesk Construction Cloud. Learn the ins and outs of the platform and earn certifications to showcase and demonstrate your knowledge. Since its launch last year, there have been more than 50,000 course enrollments from 134 countries.
The Big Room. You can gain valuable insights from discussions with like-minded individuals. The Big Room helps you do just that by bringing together construction pros in an online community where you can network with others, ask questions, and share construction best practices—anytime, anywhere.
Microgrants and scholarship program. Earlier this year, we announced that we would be awarding $50,000 worth of microgrants to support graduating high school seniors who want to continue their construction education through apprenticeship programs or vocational schools. The grant can be used to cover expenses related to their training, which may include tuition fees, equipment, and even childcare.
New Master Class series. We’re also excited to share a new Master Class series that features classes for BIM/VDC professionals, project managers, field professionals, preconstruction managers and estimators. You’ll hear from industry leaders and Autodesk experts, and learn how to deliver key project outcomes and overcome challenges through better workflows and technology.
Bringing everything together
Our industry may be facing a labor shortage, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of opportunities for those who want to start and grow their construction careers. Not only are companies willing to invest more in qualified workers, but there are also countless initiatives out there that can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.
If you’re interested in levelling up your construction career, check out the resources above to get started. You can join us in the Big Room to ask questions, discuss industry trends, and share your experiences.