95% of contractors have trouble finding skilled workers

Written by LetsBuild

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A detailed report published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the USG Corporation showed that 95% of contractors have serious problems finding skilled workforce for their projects.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! According to Reuters, the construction worker shortage is at its highest since 2007, when the global financial crisis began. The significant shortage of skilled labor is one of the biggest challenges that the construction industry is battling against.

construction skills shortage
Source: Fortune.com

The UK and US markets appear to take the biggest hit at the moment. Starting from the United Kingdom, it has been reported that the lack of skilled workforce is costing the nation more than £90 billion a year.

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As far as the US building sector is concerned, just for 2016 the Labor Statistics Bureau revealed that more than 200,000 construction positions remain unfilled. This is an 81% increase in the last two years. A significantly high percentage that hinders the development of the industry.

But the US and UK markets aren’t the only victims. New Zealand is another very indicative example. More specifically, there is an imminent need for 30,000 additional building workers by 2019.

“80% of construction firms can’t find the workforce they need”

A few months ago, the AGC (Associated General Contractors) of America issued a report that demonstrates the struggle of construction firms to find the workers they need. 8 out of 10 building firms aren’t able to cover their severe workforce needs. Concrete workers are facing the biggest shortage. Electrical, millwork, plumbing and masonry are some other fields that experience serious problems.
Furthermore, 56% of contractors expressed their concerns about their workers being adequately trained for the job. This is a worrisome statement which depicts the deeply problematic reality in construction.

workers skills shortage - contractor concerns
Source: Fortune.com

The good news is that everybody in the industry is well aware of this troubling reality. The bad news is that the current situation is expected to become even worse in the near future. As stated in the USG and US Chamber of Commerce report, 59% of Northeast American companies are expecting that finding skilled workforce will be much harder during the next six months. In the West, contractors appear to be slightly more optimistic (27%).

Problems finding skilled construction workers
Source: Fortune.com

“69,000 US construction workers are working up to 50 hours per week”

It goes without saying that this lack of competent construction laborers has serious repercussions on the existing workforce, as well. TSheets presented recently some very interesting data concerning the total amount of hours that US construction laborers work on a weekly basis.
The results are far from promising. More analytically, it appears that approximately 69,000 workers all over United States have to work up to 50 hours per week due to the significant skills shortage problem. This is translated into an average of extra 9.6 hours per week per employee.

But, there’s also a bright side to this overtime nightmare. Based on the TSheets data, only 1% of the total construction workforce is spending more than 40 hours on site every week. That is a very positive statistic which however is anticipated to get worse if we take into consideration the fact that every employee is working on average one hour more per week compared to 2015.

“25% of construction vacancies in the UK remain unfilled”

The UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills) highlighted through its recently released report the need for skilled workforce in the construction and the financial sector. This severe lack of well-trained professionals has resulted in 25% of the available positions to remain vacant.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The UK construction is in front of a big challenge: to empower the supply chain” quote=”The UK construction is in front of a big challenge: to empower the supply chain and accelerate the project delivery”]
That’s an extremely high percentage which has serious consequences on the productivity rates of the industry. Construction is an industry with productivity rates that don’t surpass 30%. This troubling reality has been provoked by the serious time management crisis that harms the UK building industry. The relatively small construction workforce is under extreme pressure due to the lack of competent individuals who could help with the excessive amount of work.
UK Construction Vacancies
The UK construction is in front of a great challenge. They have to come up with a way to empower the supply chain and accelerate project delivery. And this will happen by finding more skilled workers as soon as possible. At the moment, the jobs with the highest demand in British construction within the next five year are the following:

  • Technical, IT staff and non construction professionals (5,240 openings)
  • Interior fitters and wood tradesfitters (3,850 openings)
  • Installers and electricians (2,250 openings)
  • Technicians and other professionals (2,240 openings)
  • Process managers (2,150 openings)

As if that weren’t enough, Brexit is around the corner and things are expected to get even trickier in the near future. According to RICS, 8% of the UK construction workers (176,500 people) are EU citizens who will potentially have to leave Great Britain soon. Such a scenario can exacerbate the situation and create even bigger problems for the nation’s building sector.

How Companies can tackle construction worker shortage

The numbers above speak for themselves. Labor shortage is becoming more and more intense around the world and construction companies have to come up with some functional solutions in order to keep their projects running. Given the lack of human resources, the building firms have to think smartly and start investing in technology. The use of a reliable real-time project management software in combination with the overall digitization of the construction process can be the key to success.
construction worker shortage - digital tools
In a nutshell, here are the main ways in which building software can help the industry to battle against construction worker shortage:

Empower collaboration
Real-time communication can optimize collaboration between the construction site and the administration office. No need to spend hours for getting an answer to a pending task. Digital tools can simplify the communication process and lead to a significant performance boost. Moreover, many harmful delays can be avoided thanks to the improved information flow. In a few words, construction software can help you stay in control of your project despite the lack of skillful workers. Productivity increase will be the outcome of a more efficient building process.

Boost transparency and accountability
Construction software can also increase transparency and accountability in your project. By collecting and carefully analyzing your data, you can have a complete overview of the project’s progress and you can be confident that everyone is playing their part accordingly. In that manner, you can also motivate your workers by offering praise and mindful rewards to those who are carrying out their task in the most effective way. Last but not least, you will always be able to go back to your project and detect the causes behind a bad decision or a potential mismanagement of resources. An open and crystal-clear building process for everybody, in other words.

Read more here: Do you know construction’s dirty secret?

Improve resource allocation
Construction processes are constantly getting more perplexed and in that aspect it becomes more and more challenging to keep proper track of the numerous teams that work in your project. For that reason, it is vital to keep your resource allocation game on spot. The use of real-time project management software can help a lot toward that direction. By receiving real-time updates, all the different agents can easily follow what’s going on and be prepared to play their part. Thanks to this improved way of monitoring the project’s progress, you can also tackle delays and costly reworks which would demand additional tradesmen on your site.


All in all, it is evident that construction worker shortage is a big problem for the whole industry. It hinders productivity and leads to significant financial losses for the building sector. That’s why, a well coordinated plan and the active participation of the different construction stakeholders is required. Only then, it will be able for the industry to recover and adjust its needs to the needs of the market.

Construction software can be a valuable weapon against the existing labor shortage, as it can make the project management process smarter and less demanding in terms of human resources.