The construction industry’s increasing investment in technology underscores the inevitability of digitalisation. Behind this optimism, however, are labour shortages and a widespread perception of the construction industry as ‘behind the times’ which has resulted in a dearth of available digital talent.
Businesses may perceive these challenges as a hindrance to digital transformation. However, further scrutiny on the topic suggests that technology has the potential to both support current employees and to ensure the industry attracts the next generation of workers.
Decreasing time spent on manual tasks
According to the 2021 Construction Technology Report by JBKnowledge, 37 per cent of companies use four or more applications on their projects. Even so, a little over half (51 per cent) are manually transferring data between apps that don’t integrate. This need to manually enter data is a waste of valuable time and resources which only serves to further burden an already stressed workforce.
Reliance on traditional communication methods has also led to departments feeling siloed. Straightforward and standardised communication is a fundamental part of construction management. It facilitates productivity by reducing the time wasted searching for information among countless emails or physical documents.
Take Fredon for example. Through the use of Autodesk Construction Cloud, the project team realised significant gains in visibility and efficiency, saving one hour per day that was previously spent searching for information across different places – and that too, while working on Stage 3B of WestConnex, Australia’s largest infrastructure project.
Increasing gender diversity
As a sector that is already under pressure with skilled labour shortages, it is high time we change the fact that this is also a very male-dominated industry. These cultural issues are a hindrance to the industry’s capacity to efficiently and effectively carry out work projects.
However, the introduction of technology and advancements in connected construction can help break the mould and attract more females by providing new opportunities and ways of working.
Increasing safety and quality
As construction activities across APAC intensify to meet the demands of governments looking to boost economies, there is a risk of overlooking safety and quality protocols, which can have dire consequences. In 2022, Singapore recorded 46 workplace fatalities, a stark increase from
the 37 recorded in 2021, 30 in 2020 and 39 in 2019. Construction was the top contributor.
With companies facing mounting workplace safety requirements and scrutiny, businesses across the region are now spending more time regularly reviewing safety procedures and documentation, alongside increased reporting activities.
Digital tools such as project management software can ease the admin burden of additional safety requirements the workforce is facing. Most importantly, it ensures accurate and real-time dissemination of information, such as safety protocols and procedures to reduce the risk of accidents or incidents.
In fact, demonstrating better working practices through robust processes/use of digital technology can reduce a construction company’s exposure to risk. Showcasing this ability to insurance providers can help reduce insurance premiums and allow builders to divert funds to other more pressing issues such as worker compensation.
In short, the current state of the construction industry’s workforce should not be seen as a hindrance to adopt digital technology. Instead it holds immense potential to assist the workforce in boosting productivity, enabling diversity and improving safety outcomes. Furthermore, embracing technology can help shed the perception of an industry behind the times, foster innovation, and attract tech-savvy talent. Download our e-book, Construction Tomorrow: Building a Dynamic Workforce for the Future to find out more.