As we head into 2017, the forecasts for the construction industry are relatively optimistic. However, there are a few key issues that will prove to be challenging in this upcoming year.
Here 5 top issues the construction industry will face in 2017:
1. Shortage of qualified workers
The construction industry has been on the rise for the past few years and is expected to continue to grow in 2017. Despite this growth, 70% of contractors say that they are having a difficult time finding qualified workers or professionals to fill these growing positions. This misalignment between the number of available jobs and the number of skilled workers will continue to be in issue the construction industry will face in 2017. Up to this point, companies have taken some steps to try and combat this issue such as increasing pay and benefits and investing in training. Despite these efforts, it is a continuing problem that the industry has yet to resolve.
Many firms are concerned that the lack of a skilled workforce will negatively affect safety. 47% of contractors say that an inexperienced labor force is a safety concern. As the shortage of workers continues to be a problem in 2017, firms will also have to be aware of safety concerns and adjust appropriately.
2. Generational Differences
Another conflict that may arise in 2017 is the conflict between generations. More and more millennials are entering the job force who have very different work ethics and sets of skills than different generations in the field. This difference of opinion may cause conflicts to arise, in particular between veteran employees and new employees.
3. Technology adoption
Technology has transformed the industry, and whoever cannot keep up will be left behind. This has become especially true as competition increases both in attracting workers and competing for projects. Necessary construction technology includes cloud-based software, integrated collaboration, and mobile project management. Companies must be strategic when implementing new technology to not upset the veteran employees who are set in the traditional way of doing business. Companies must implement technology slowly and steadily to reap its benefits with minimal blowback from employees.
The use of building information modeling (BIM), laser scanning, and virtual reality will also become more used on 2017 and become a necessary practice for firms. BIM and laser scanning are becoming more commercially affordable, and despite the initial investment, save the company money in the long run by streamlining processes. BIM is starting to be introduced to students in higher education and is expected to become more prevalent in the upcoming years.
4. Environmental sustainability
The construction industry continues to face issues combatting their adverse effect on the environment as they produce 25-40% of the world’s carbon emissions. As these problems become more at the forefront of the global agenda, they will have to make changes to avoid negative attitudes from the public. This is not any easy feat for the construction industry and will take many years to accomplish. Making significant changes in carbon emissions requires an entirely new project management approach focused on reducing energy emissions and water consumption. Taking care of the environment is a social obligation that the construction industry holds and must make steps to maintain.
5. Project complexity
Construction projects are becoming more demanding and complicated in the design. This trend will only continue into 2017 and will pose a challenge for the scarce workforce. Therefore, firms must be selective in what projects they choose to accept. Taking too many projects may prevent companies from complete the job on time or cause them to lose all profitability from date slippage. According to Accenture, only 30% of firms currently deliver projects on budget and only 15% deliver on time. This number of firms able to deliver projects on time and budget will only decrease as the number of skilled workers decreases and demand increases.
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As the construction industry heads into a new year, it is important to be aware of the challenges it will be faced with and prepare to take steps to combat them.