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Construction Industry Challenges and Opportunities in 2021

In addition to the already existing ones, each year comes with a raft of challenges for different industries around the world. The construction industry is no exception. Even with its visible growth, there are still setbacks and problems that try to slow or stunt this development. Here are some of the challenges.

1. The Covid-19 Pandemic

Contractors, developers, workers, and owners have all experienced varying degrees of impact due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The new normal affects almost every aspect of the process, from the construction activities to the slow movement of supplies. Some projects have even had to be terminated.

The global construction output has been projected to fall by 3.1%. This will be a sharp contrast compared to the 3.1% increase that was recorded in 2019. The industry has struggled to complete underlying projects while at the same time trying to protect its staff. However, the firms are making an effort to correct this by implementing new strategies. For example, most of them have tried downsizing in several areas, while others try to work within the changed timeframes. This agility remains vital if the industry is to pull through these trying times.

2. Slow Technology Adoption

Numerous surveys and studies have proven that the construction industry is really slow in incorporating new technologies, 2021 being no different. Stakeholders and business honors are guilty of underinvesting in technology. They decide to stick with those passed by time, such as telematics and mobile phones. Ironically, technologies such as drones, VR, robots, 3D printing, and IoT can help solve other industry challenges.

As we approach the age where modern technology will be a vital component of the industry, the firms and companies to adopt them early will surely reap the rewards. Those that remain adamant will only have themselves to blame.

3. Shortage of Skills

Even before the pandemic hit us, the industry was already facing this problem. The construction industry has not been attracting enough skilled personnel to meet its growing demand. A survey recently showed that 75% of firms are looking to add their headcount while a staggering 78% struggles to find qualified personnel. A huge 82% is not expecting any change from this. To make this even worse, the industry has an alarming 21% of its employees aged 55+.

On the contrary, Just 9% of the employees are age 24 or younger. The rate at which the older generation of workers is retiring is higher than that of the incoming younger generation. This means that construction firms will continue to struggle as they look for employees to meet their demands. The lack of diversity is only expected to make matters worse.

4. Worker Safety

For years, worker safety has been an issue in the construction industry, even to the point of recording the most number of injuries and deaths. The injuries slow down the industry, too; the median time that a worker takes away from work is ten days. Some take even more time. This means that a huge amount of productivity is lost to injuries and illnesses, which can easily be prevented. All construction business owners should make it their top priority to protect the employees. Companies with strong safety programs have this reflected in their productivity. Regular training and safe work practices should be strictly enforced.

5. Stagnated Levels of Production

Contrary to other industries, the construction industry has shown minute improvement when it comes to productivity. A recent report stated that even though other sectors (such as agriculture) continue scaling the heights of productivity, the construction industry’s productivity levels have stagnated at the same level it was twenty years back. Moreover, it is being projected that the numbers will start declining if much stays the same. These statistics are troubling, especially with construction projects getting more complex.

Several factors have contributed to this; poor communication between the stakeholders, poor scheduling, inadequate planning, and time wastage. You will be shocked to find out that most of the employees always have to stay idle while waiting for supplies and materials to be delivered. However, there is still a ray of hope. For example, construction methods that require high-level communication, such as design-build, have been adopted. Technological advancements and project management software are expected to change the industry gradually.