Woman wearing VR headset to work on 3D architectural design; upskill workers concept

The Future of Construction Is Digital: How Our Industry Will Upskill Workers

People in every sector upskill workers to remain competitive and adaptable. 

Tools that automate work are disrupting America’s workforce. Recruitment professional Jeff Raymond writes that half of American workers might “need to find new employment by 2030.”

In the construction sector, businesses need people to reskill and upskill quickly. They need people who are fluent in emerging technologies because, well, that’s where the future of construction is heading.

But 2030 marks a different deadline for many people in construction. As Payscale’s Liz Sheffield writes, about 41 percent of today’s construction workforce will retire by 2031. 

Below, we will explore what upskilling America’s construction workforce will look like, and how companies and trade organizations can deliver the necessary training.

Man focused on lap top, taking notes; upskill workers concept

Upskilling America’s Construction Teams

The upskilling conversation is a coin with two sides. 

On one side is the idea that workers need to learn new skills so they can use the digital tools that make work more efficient. On the other side are the digital tools that are going to help people learn their new skills. 

The latter conversation is the most fun one to imagine. That’s where we get to think about students, apprentices and veteran tradespeople using augmented and virtual reality tools so you can simulate the experience of, say, constructing a building’s electrical infrastructure.

Laura Black writes about this at Connected World: “In the case of electrical construction, the technology will help learn the foundational knowledge and skill to be equipped for apprenticeships and jobs in electrical construction. This approach guides trainees through hands-on skills sessions with the assistance of a digital coach that adapts to their performance, all in a fully immersive, 360-degree environment that is distraction-free and safe from many of the risks of traditional electrical construction learning.”

It’s important to think beyond field teams, too. Office managers, project managers, accountants — everyone in the back office team will also need to learn new tech skills to navigate the approaching future of construction. 

“Being a whizz at Excel will no longer be sufficient,” says Graham Harle, global CEO of the 138-year-old property and construction consultancy Gleeds in the U.K. “Clients are expecting real-time dashboarding capabilities using the likes of Power BI and Tableau, with coding and app building skills to boot.

“… Cost consultants and project managers, for example, must have the expertise to take computer-generated data and accurately interpret it on behalf of the client. They will need to have practical experience and a knowledge of the wider industry in order to contextualise that information, calculate risk, and make recommendations.”

Upskill Workers – What That Training Could Look Like

Efficiency is going to be a key aspect of training up a whole workforce by 2030.

As McKinsey’s Dr. Markus Hammer writes, “[S]uccessful capability-building programs are built on a clear understanding of exactly which individuals need which skills to meet the organization’s goals. The need for speed in many of today’s programs requires as much focus on exactly how those skills are built.”

Speed is a key word because construction teams are already lean and have little time to spend on non-productive work. That reality collides with the fact that it takes a person about 480 hours of practice to build a usable new skill. That’s 12 full-time workweeks. 

So, companies will need to prioritize what skills to train their teams up on, and how to implement that training.

Nick Guidry at the Construction Career Collaborative says there are a few ways to close those skills gaps:

  • By delivering organization-wide training.
  • By delivering department-level training (e.g., training up a back office team on AI-powered estimating software).
  • By connecting individual employees with personalized training (e.g., via a multi-week program at a local technical school).

Guidry’s piece also brings up an important part of the upskilling conversation that sometimes gets glossed over. There are many ways to deliver training, whether that’s in-house training, via an apprenticeship program, or via post-secondary schools.

There are also vendor partnerships, which offer customizable and streamlined ways to deliver training on specific tools. eSUB offers this through our eSUB Academy, by connecting clients with a dedicated strategic consultant, and with a robust help center.

To learn more about how we can help your field and office teams build new skills in using construction project management and project documentation software, contact us today

Images used under license from Shutterstock.com.