We have been talking here at Constructech about the labor shortage—and the need for both young workers to join the industry and leaders to step up, train the next generation, and make big change happen. New research supports this hypothesis.

Results from the Q1 2019 USG Corp. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction show that the labor shortage continues to persist in the industry. The result? Quite simply, roughly 81% of skilled workers need to do more work. Additionally, 70% struggle to meet deadlines, 63% need to increase costs for new work, and—here’s a real kicker—roughly 40% need to reject new projects all together because there simply aren’t the workers to complete them.

Let’s bust a couple of myths up front. It is true that some people don’t choose construction because they consider it “dirty” or difficult work. And, yes, there is an influx of young people today going on to college and not considering skilled trades as a career. Those are real challenges we need to address. But we also need to talk about how leaders need to evolve.

Consider this: The Project Management Institute recently released its Pulse of the Profession report, which shows organizations wasted almost 12%—that is not a tiny number—of project spend last year due to poor performance. The solution to reducing that number is this: innovative companies put a high priority on digital skills acquisitions coupled with a commitment to a strong project-management culture.

Let’s break this down a little bit further. The Project Management Institute calls it a PMTQ (Project Management Technology Quotient), which is defined as a person’s ability to adapt, manage, and integrate content advances in technology for a project or organization. Projects managers with a high PMTQ are always looking for what’s next and trying out new project delivery approaches and technology.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Roughly 78% prioritize developing project management business skills, including the management of people. Further, 81% provide ongoing project manager training. This is exactly what is needed today. We need to manage the people who manage the technology. It is such a key component of good leaders.

Conversely, some companies are not focusing on people first. Accenture says that while 60% of business leaders had increased their AI (artificial intelligence) investments in 2017, only 3% say they would invest significantly in training and reskilling programs through 2020. A lack of reskilling could potentially be the downfall of construction. We need to build the skills into our workers today. It simply cannot wait.

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Laura Black
Laura Blackeditor