2019 is officially here, and it appears that it will be another year of notable challenges and inspiring advancements for the construction industry.
As industry leaders reflect on the mix of frustrations and triumphs from 2018, it helps to use the early moments of the New Year to ponder and predict what major developments will be the most influential in the months to come.
Taking time to research what trends appear to be the most widely forecast will help all industry professionals strategically develop and modify their plans for the future, allowing for a more streamlined and deliberate approach to success and growth.
To help you stay informed on where the construction world is heading, here are a few major ways the industry is expected to be impacted in 2019:
The construction labor shortage has been a much-discussed and recurring issue in the construction industry, and it most likely won’t cease to be an obstacle this year either.
Between the large number of construction workers headed for retirement, the stark disinterest from millennials in joining the trade, and the increasingly strict immigration enforcement, the shortage is being propelled by multiple antagonists.
As a result, a remarkable number of construction jobs remained unfilled last year, and according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the lack of skilled workers was noted as contractors’ greatest concern for 2019. Nearly 80% of contractors stated they are currently having trouble filling salaried and hourly positions, and the majority also expressed that they don’t feel it will get any easier to find construction talent within the next 12 months.
On a positive note, there has been an increase of women working in the construction industry over the past few years. If recruitment efforts focus on increasing diversity in the industry as well as targeting millennials and those from Generation Z, it will help the industry adapt its image to fit a broader workforce.
Despite the difficulty of acquiring workers, 79% of firms are still confident about 2019’s growth and plan to increase headcount. While the industry is expected to expand this year, the rate of expansion appears like it will settle down compared to previous years. In an industry forecast put out by Dodge Data & Analytics, it’s estimated that 2019 will see U.S construction starts coming in at about $808 billion compared to the $807 billion estimated for 2018.
Construction project costs have been consistently rising over the years, and the trend is looking likely to continue this year as well.
As mentioned above, the majority of firms are having issues finding labor, resulting in larger labor costs. In hopes of attracting and retaining workers, firms have been increasing pay, improving employee benefits, offering more incentives and bonuses, and spending more on employee training costs.
In addition to labor expenses, the cost of materials have been growing, an issue that has been aggravated by the tariffs placed on China in 2018. There is currently a truce between the US and China, and depending on whether or not the two countries can work out a trade deal, rising material prices may continue to be a major concern.
The popularity of using modular construction has been growing in recent years, and it seems like 2019 will see a pronounced continuation of this trend.
According to a recent report, the modular construction market is expected to grow from a worth of $112.42 billion in 2018 to $157.19 billion by 2023, which results in a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7%.
At a time when the construction industry is feeling the pressure from the chronic labor shortage as well as the increasingly high materials costs, it’s easy to see the appeal of the many benefits modular construction offers.
Because modular construction is largely fabricated in a climate-controlled indoor facility, contractors don’t need to worry about project setbacks or damage to materials due to inclement weather conditions. Similarly, the job site foundation can be prepared at the same time as the modular construction is taking place, which significantly speeds up project completion.
Because the process of modular construction tends to be more automated and also uses less equipment than traditional job sites, fewer laborers are needed, helping to save on labor costs as well as better operate within the labor shortage.
In a survey examining the responses of hundreds of architecture, engineering, and contracting professionals who have used prefab and modular construction, it was found that 66% saw reduced schedules, 65% reported decreased budgets, and 77% stated construction waste was reduced.
In the age of the technological revolution, new advancements have the ability to magnify convenience and transform our ability to problem solve and innovate. The construction industry certainly can benefit from increasing its use of digital tools, as new developments show promise to enhance job-site safety, provide highly accurate data, and increase productivity.
There are quite a few exciting tech advancements that industry professionals are expected to more widely utilize in 2019 and beyond. These include:
Augmented reality is a bit more advanced than virtual reality, and it offers major advantages to those in the construction industry. While virtual reality is a computer-generated experience that replaces the physical environment, augmented reality uses computer-generated images to change and modify how the user sees their physical environment. Augmented devices can help collect accurate data in an automated fashion as well as enhance collaboration efforts. The capabilities go far beyond standard 3D modeling, minimizing planning errors and the need to rework anything.
As virtual and augmented reality become increasingly accessible, more construction firms are seeing them as realistic tools to incorporate into their business plans. According to a recent survey, 40% of large contractors plan to use either virtual or augmented reality in the near future.
Like most industries, construction is expected to experience ups and downs throughout 2019. While the labor shortage and the unresolved issues of the trade war pose an element of uncertainty, construction leaders can use advancements in technology and off-site construction, as well as commitment to broader recruitment efforts, to transform the industry into a more automated, safe, and inclusive field.
Finding the right employees will always be the foundation to any successful business, and construction is no different. For over four decades, S.R. Clarke Consulting Services, Inc. has been helping construction companies find the top talent they need to grow and prosper.
With over 30,000 successful placements behind us, we work as each client’s strategic partner in success, and this philosophy has allowed us to help businesses flourish throughout all of the industry’s peaks and valleys.
If you’re ready for us to find your next perfect hire, get in touch today!