The construction industry is facing a worker shortage, and here is a recommendation to combat it: Let the robots rise up in construction—and at the same time reskill the human workers right alongside the machines.

If you had an opportunity to read last month’s feature over on Connected World, you know automation is making an impact on the job market today and is central to the next phase of digital transformation. Robots will do jobs better, faster, and for less money. But here is the catch: we need to reskill our workers and that isn’t an easy feat.

Let’s dig into this a little bit more. The technology—robotics, AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning—it is all here today. We are constantly seeing new systems come to market aimed to make construction easier, faster, and more efficient.

Case in point: AMP Robotics and Ryohshin partnered to launch a new AI-driven robotics system for construction and demolition recycling in Japan. AMP Neuron is the “eyes” and “brain” of the robotic system achieving real-time pattern recognition to identify target materials. The AI platform guides high-performance robots that recognize, sort, pick, and process construction and demolition debris for recycling.

Here’s where it gets really cool: Machine learning helps the robot continuously learn by processing data converted from millions of images captured by its vision system. Then, it is able to recognize different colors, textures, shapes, and patterns. And this is simply the latest example.

We have been talking about how robots will rise up in business for decades, but now the technology is available. Perhaps it is the perfect timing too. With the labor shortage, we might see a surge of companies scurrying to come to market with robots to fill in the gaps.

But we need to talk about that caveat: our workers. They are still a vital cog in business—and they can be difficult to engage and reskill.

Speakap recently conducted a study that provides some interesting insights into Millennials in particular. It suggests that this group is the most common in the global workforce and they are the hardest generation of employees to engage—more so than Gen Z, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. This group values meaningful experiences and they are constantly in search of personal fulfillment, rather than just another job.

And there is one big fact that can’t be ignored: the high turnover rate. In the study, 75% of those surveyed said they experience an average turnover rate of up to 30% each year. This is further supported by the fact that 15% of the respondents said their employees only stay for a duration of 1-2 years, while another 8% said the average duration of employment for their workers is less than one year.

How can you engage and retain the younger generation? If we want to boil it down to one word: technology. They want to work side-by-side with machines.

The study doesn’t point to AI and robotics specifically, but it might as well. It states that both Millennials and Gen Z want realtime feedback, socially engaging experiences, and mobile access influence engagement. They want to be connected and engaged—all the time. And so perhaps, that is exactly what the construction industry should do. Look to robotics and AI to fill in the gaps of the labor shortage, and then reskill the workforce to take care of the rest.

Laura Black
Laura Blackeditor