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Labor Market and Building Trends

By: Nick Robertson, PMP, CM-LEAN

The construction industry is constantly evolving to become more efficient, hurdle barriers, and conform to increasingly stringent safety and code regulations. Over the course of the next 3 to 5 years and potentially beyond, the industry will need to adapt again. This time the lack of qualified manpower will become a primary obstacle. As the market begins to pick up steam, we are seeing an increase in construction in our local market. However, the amount of high school graduates who are choosing to go into the trades is decreasing while the average age of the trades worker is increasing. Over the past 3 years we have seen manpower become a limiting factor for projects, and it is only getting worse. Unless innovative solutions are implemented into the construction progress this is going to drive cost and schedule in a negative direction for owners.

Contractors who will be successful over the coming years will be those able to adapt to this challenge by utilizing concepts like LEAN Construction planning, modularization, diversifying their subcontractor base, and using technology to eliminate waste from the process. These practices allow contractors to utilize efficiencies in manufacturing, reduce the impact of weather, identify and eliminate waste, draw labor from less saturated markets, and “do more with less”. This will translate to lower costs for owners as well as allow project schedules to be expedited despite the labor shortages.

One key to the implementation of these processes is that they are most effective in the IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) method of construction. Hiring a Construction Manager in advance of design allows building experts to help facilitate a design with these practices in mind. Far too often an owner is not able to maximize savings because when the builder is hired the design limits their ability to remove waste and use some of these best practices. The most successful projects will be those when owners, builders, and design teams come together to maximize the efficiencies and deliver high quality projects using these innovative solutions.

Nick is a project executive who oversees multi-million dollar projects and project teams. His attention is on developing relationships with owners and subcontractors, conflict resolution, and staffing to ensure overall project success. Nick enjoys taking on the most complex and challenging projects regardless of market sector. His clients represent a diverse range including commercial/residential, higher education, development, and industrial.