Four challenges facing the construction industry in 2021
The construction industry is hoping for a return to normal just like every other industry but faces significant adversity in getting back to ground zero. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to overcoming the shortage of qualified workers, resistance to new technologies, increasing material costs, and even new environmental regulations.
As with any problem, however, finding solutions will require creativity and consistency, and history tells us that recovery will come.
Some of the most significant challenges facing the industry today include:
Finding Qualified and Willing Employees
What many are calling a labor shortage may actually be a reckoning among the US labor force. In a post-pandemic environment, millions of Americans have reassessed what they want out of a career and the hours they spend away from their families.
While unemployment assistance programs helped workers in the short term, others find unique ways to make up for lost wages. The construction industry was already suffering from not meeting its growing demand, and the post-pandemic work world is only escalating the challenges. Finding ways to attract and keep the right talent will be crucial skills for businesses to tackle in 2021.
Slow Adoption of New Technology
Historically, the construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies. Although new technologies can substantially improve the results and performance of any construction project, many construction business owners do not invest in them.
This lag in technology adoption can result in higher costs to the company, unsatisfied workers who prefer to be among early adopters, and even safety issues that could have been addressed with newer technologies. From planning software to project management communications, 3D printing, and even automation techniques, industry leaders will be forced to adapt or find themselves far behind competitors.
Increasing Material Costs and Lower Inventory
Anyone who has tried to order construction materials in the last 18 months can tell you that inventory is at an all-time low, and costs are at an all-time high. These imbalances can wreak havoc on budgets, timelines, customer acquisition, and several other factors in the construction industry.
For commercial construction companies, the lack of inventory means the inability to bid for new jobs or meet loyal customers’ expected timelines. Working with a commercial roofing contractor can help mitigate these circumstances but still poses a challenge for managing costs.
Inventory management continues to be a significant concern in the industry, and companies are hopeful for a return to pre-pandemic levels. However, with the surge of work-from-home employees and more companies agreeing to reassess the terms of employment, empty business buildings may lead to fewer new construction and increasing supply costs based on low demand.
Sustainability and environmental issues are becoming progressively more relevant as climate change and global warming debates gain momentum. Unfortunately, this also means that construction companies will be required to adapt to them by becoming more forward-thinking in an industry known for outdated practices.
Companies expect their vendors and suppliers to care about environmental and sustainability issues as much as they do, and the construction industry is no exception.
There will be no overnight solutions to these challenges. Still, in an industry that serves as the backbone of commercial development, the outcome is sure to be positive in the long term.