When did you start your career in construction? Was it decades ago? Last year? Somewhere in between? The construction industry is filled with veterans and novices alike and the pathways to get involved in construction are changing rapidly. One of the emerging fields attracting the next generation of professionals working in the industry is construction technology.
Some young children dream of growing up to be pilots, writers, or firefighters. Others aspire to be doctors, chefs, or librarians. And then, there are the young children who love to play in the dirt, build, design, and construct (or demolish!). Many of these young people typically go on to have construction careers.
Whether it all started in the sandbox with toy trucks and lego sets, working for the family construction company, or in a university classroom -- the construction industry is composed of countless individuals filling wildly diverse roles.
While straightforward paths into construction jobs do exist, some people find themselves in the industry by chance, or through a related industry. There is no single pathway taken by everyone who has a career in the construction industry. And in some cases -- that pathway is a maze.
Every year, the month of October is Careers in Construction Month. A month in which the industry raises awareness about the vast opportunity for careers in construction. It is a month to celebrate the everyday heroes of the industry, the diverse sections and subgroups within construction, and most importantly: to recruit new talent. The nationwide campaign is meant to increase public awareness and “make an impact on the perceptions of a career in construction.”
Here at Trux, a construction and trucking technology company, we are proud to work side-by-side with industry veterans. But where does the construction industry end and the tech industry start? And how do careers in construction overlap with the tech industry? Can technology help with the industry’s labor shortage? Keep reading -- we’ve got you covered.
Diverse Career Opportunities in Construction
This summer the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 7.5 million people working in the construction jobs. There are three main sub-sectors within construction, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: construction of buildings, heavy and civil engineering construction, and specialty trade contractors.
Outside of these definitions of the industry, there are countless other professionals whose careers fall under the umbrella of construction jobs.
Careers in construction include engineering, administration, heavy equipment operation, manual labor, project management, technology, material production, inspecting, and operator roles -- to name a few! The list of opportunities and careers in construction is extensive.
One area of the industry which has grown exponentially in the last few decades is the construction technology industry. Project management software, workforce optimization software, logistics platforms, AI, modeling, etc., are just a few of the different types of technologies that are becoming increasingly common in the industry.
Technology in the construction industry can also mean hardware or software -- each having distinct purposes and advantages.
Labor Shortages in the Construction Industry
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, in 2021, 92% of contractors reported difficulty finding skilled labor. The lack of skilled labor resulted in 42% of contractors having to turn down work. In July of this year, it was reported that 321,000 jobs in construction in the U.S. were unfilled.
Skilled labor shortages directly impact the construction industry, and those impacts trickle down, directly or indirectly affecting countless numbers of Americans’ daily lives.
Public infrastructure and utility projects that have surpassed project deadlines affect state and local budgets and can be inconvenient when it comes to travel, transportation, and daily life.
Careers in construction are readily available. Finding employees and long-term solutions are a priority for the industry. COVID-19 had a significant impact on careers in construction and the national labor force. At the beginning of the pandemic, the industry lost 1,000,000 workers. 80% have returned, but the labor shortage still remains.
As the housing market continues to grow, construction is booming and the pending Infrastructure Bill will bring more funding to the industry. With all the new construction needed for infrastructure projects and construction work, the labor shortage is only expected to grow.
Labor shortages can also be attributed to an aging workforce and a lack of vocational training classes at the high school level. Far fewer students are getting hands-on experience and on the job training with construction projects at an early age.
For many students, the skills developed in vocational classes at the high school level build confidence and provide a viable alternative to a 2-year or 4-year college. With less emphasis and funding for vocational classes, many are missing an opportunity for a rewarding career in the trades. A technical school education and on the job training can also provide valuable experience.
Can technology bridge that gap and ultimately help with the industry’s construction labor shortage? We think so. No, we don’t mean robots, and the industry still needs to actively recruit and retain new talent. But by streamlining and optimizing manual labor, employees have more time to focus on other aspects of their jobs, making it possible to operate more efficiently with a lean team.
Today’s youth is also very used to technology, almost every teenager has a smartphone, a laptop, and is very comfortable leveraging technology. Building more technology tools into day-to-day life as a construction professional is a way to meet young workers where they are at. If they haven’t had traditional training in the trades, but they are familiar with technology - why not leverage some of the tools they are familiar with?
The role of technology in construction
Technology has had a huge impact on construction projects and construction management. It has helped with safety, productivity, visibility, and efficiency.
Technology continues to change and advance the industry. Construction technology supports businesses and employees. Construction technology is a broad term, encompassing so many different pieces of technology and so many different subsectors of the industry.
On Season 1 of “Get A Load of This,” Trux’s podcast, the topic of construction technology and careers in construction technology came up often:
- Episode 3: John Carney, a foreman with Harness LLC, and his team are focused on top-quality work and top-quality people. His advice for people pursuing careers in construction? “There's always a new form of technology out there that can make you just a little bit sharper. If you stop growing, you're going to get passed up.”
- Episode 4: Raquel Rivas, a dispatching supervisor with Vulcan Materials Company, recognizes not only the impact that technology has had on dispatching, but on how far that technology has come in the last 20 years. “If you use technology in the trucking industry to the fullest, you'll go a lot faster and things will go a lot smoother. You'll also be a lot less stressed.”
- Episode 5: David Boardman, the founder & CEO of Stockpile Reports, knows that the foundation of automation and optimization is good data and asset management. Technology makes that possible. For David, and many other people, careers in construction technology, don’t always start in construction. “About 10 years ago, we started to look at computer vision technologies and say, “what problems can we solve in the commercial marketplace?” After looking at a lot of really interesting and exciting problems, we ended up going with bulk materials management.”
- Episode 6: Clay Bowman, Sales and Marketing Director of TAC Insight & Fast-Weigh, has built his career on helping construction professionals understand and leverage technology. “I've always strived to stay in this industry. You make friends here. There's nothing like the construction industry. People say that all the time that the people are so genuine. They are so down to earth. It's just a pleasure to do business in this industry.”
The takeaway from so many of these industry leaders is that technology isn’t going away. Individuals hoping to have long and successful careers in construction management, civil engineering, constructor work, and more, need to embrace technology.
Careers in construction technology
With construction technology, a whole new subset of careers in construction are opened up. The construction technology industry, just like the construction industry, has so many different opportunities for individuals to be part of it.
Many technology companies are structured similarly with core functions and departments including:
- Product and Engineering
- Customer Support and Account Management
- Sales and Marketing
- Business Operations
Many individuals with careers in construction technology have worked in other parts of the industry, others have entered the construction technology industry through their job function (marketing, finance, software engineering, etc.). Leveraging the skills they have built elsewhere to enhance their ability to make an impact in construction technology.
Alternatively, if you are clear that your pathway into the construction industry is through construction technology, there are many universities, colleges, and vocational schools that are focused on setting students up for careers in construction technology. Doing an online search for “careers in construction technology” brings up quite a few different programs.
Where Trux Fits
Construction technology is an essential part of the industry’s future. Efficiency, safety, and productivity within the construction industry are driven by technology.
Within construction technology, trucking technology exists, and to get even more granular, Trux’s solution specifically supports dump trucks.
Trux’s all-in-one trucking platform is designed to help manage all dump truck logistics in one place, whether you’re a material producer, trucking company, broker or contractor. The solution provides:
- Increased visibility into operations
- Significant cost-savings
- A user-friendly interface built to be used by those on the road or behind a desk
- Responsive customer support and account management
The one thing in common with almost all careers in construction technology? So many people who work in it are connected and motivated by a common goal: to make a difference in the industry. Trux employees are no different.
Interested in learning more about Trux and how it can help streamline and optimize your trucking or construction business’ operations? Schedule a demo today to speak with one of our experts.
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