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So We Have A Skilled Trades Labor Shortage... What Next?

The skilled trades are experiencing a significant labor shortage that will only continue to worsen, impacting project schedules, create cost escalation, and put further strain on an already struggling industry.

President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act aims to revitalize America’s roads, bridges and railways, in addition to increasing broadband internet access nationwide. As a result, skilled trades employers are seeing a significant uptick in demand for new goods and projects.

In an industry already short on skilled workers, with a workforce continuing to shrink, and over 40% of the workers set to retire by 2031, the skilled trades industry will be forced to evolve.

To keep up with demand using a shrinking and less skilled workforce, employers will need ways to retain the workers they have and work more efficiently with less labor.

Attract and Retain Skilled Trades Professionals

A smaller labor pool creates more work for each worker. So, we have to do more with less, or overburdened workers will drive up injury and turnover rates, further diminishing the available workforce.

Companies will need to strengthen relationships with schools and trade organizations, creating win-win partnerships, including internships, mentorships, training, and actively participating in recruiting, starting at the junior high level.

Companies will need to create employee programs that provide inclusion, culture, and a sense of tenure. Employees will be loyal if they feel valued and appreciated. The tables are turning on companies, and the companies that understand this, and embrace it will be the companies that win.

Expert Preparation and Preplanning Services

Project planning and resource optimization management will become an industry unto itself. For decades, scheduling was an afterthought, and resource optimization was a luxury, no one had the time or patience for. Now, working with finite resources, developing alternative schedule possibilities and resource optimization opportunities to advise companies on the optimal path, will guide companies on how large a team they need and how long a workday should be to maximize efficiency without overworking people on site.

Implementing resource workload optimization, workers will be less likely to be overscheduled and injured from overwork. And with less on-the-job strain, injuries, and rework will go down, while efficiency, quality and productivity will increase.

Until the industry can catch up, preplanning / optimization services will be an outsourced advantage employed by the progressive companies that want to stay ahead of the pack.

Preventing Downtime with Telematics

During a labor shortage, employer need to be able to constantly monitor their equipment health. Equipment breakdowns require more labor to repair, and slow down existing projects. Too much equipment downtime can create schedule delays, further straining capacity to meet increased demand.

Telematics solutions can track equipment health by collecting data from cameras, drones, and vehicle trackers. These tracking elements tell contractors when their equipment needs preventive maintenance so they can get on top of problems before they happen.

As an added benefit, telematics can reduce the amount of office work needed so that companies can refocus their workforce on important site tasks.

Delay Retirement and Facilitate Training with Remote Knowledge

With a workforce median age of 53. An aging workforce is a major contributor to the skilled labor shortage.

Remote knowledge technology can help put off that retirement age, extending the pool of expertise by several years. Remote knowledge involves an on-site person streaming video of the object or problem to be inspected, reviewed, or quality checked to a skilled trades professional off site.

Part-time remote work might be attractive to more senior trades professionals for three reasons:

1. It’s safer: There aren’t any on-site hazards when conducting reviews from a remote location.

2. It’s flexible: Part-time work lets trades professionals work flexible schedules.

3. It’s more efficient: Because they’re not on site all the time, reviews can be completed as needed, in less time – reducing the cost to companies.

Having experienced trades professionals’ mentor less-experienced employees can improve training efforts. Remote video consults can provide an essential bridge between today’s workforce and tomorrow’s leaders.

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