Survey: Tech in Construction Industry is Behind

MONDAY, MAY 15, 2023

According to a recent study from automation solution Yooz, the construction industry ranks the lowest in technology competence among surveyed industries.

The new study regarding technology in the workplace also reports that half of U.S. workers under the age of 25 associate their industry’s adoption of technology to their prospects of career advancement.

The report surveyed 600 U.S. professionals with a minimum salary of $50,000 who worked in 10 fields, asking them to describe their experiences and perceptions of workplace technology this year.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 50% of workers under 25 agreed with the statement “the way my industry views adopting new technology is a barrier to my career advancement,” compared to 30% of workers 25 and older;
  • Younger employees tend to be the first to embrace new technologies at work, with 32% of salaried workers under 25 saying they are “among the first to experiment with and use them,” compared to 22% of workers 35 and older;
  • More than two-thirds of younger workers say they spend most of their work lives using workplace technologies—and nearly all (91%) agree that these technologies help them do their jobs better;
  • 30% of respondents cited “slow or outdated hardware or software” as the No. 1 technological barrier to efficiency at work, followed by lack of training (24%) and poor Internet connectivity or reliability (24%);
  • Respondents were asked to rank 10 industries based on their perceived technological proficiency. While the software industry topped the list, the industry that ranked lowest in perceived technology competence was construction, with the restaurant and automotive industries ranking just above it; and
  • Across all age groups, respondents urged employers to embrace new technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and automation technology.

“Technology has become so central to our work-lives today that even traditionally lower-tech industries must embrace a future driven by innovations like AI and automation, both in customer-facing functions like sales and marketing and back-office functions like finance and accounting,” said Laurent Charpentier, CEO of Yooz.

“Workers, and especially younger workers, understand this and look to employers that can best prepare them for this future. Companies that fail to invest in workplace technology or provide training risk losing young talent to competitors that are more forward-thinking and committed to innovation.”

Yooz reports that, in an increasingly competitive landscape, lower-ranked industries must work harder to demonstrate their commitment to new technologies to attract younger workers.

Tech in Construction

Last year, in October, the Associated Builders and Contractors released its second annual construction technology report, highlighting case studies on specific technologies and innovative practices.

The various technologies and practices noted in the report have been reportedly used by ABC member contractors to strengthen their value proposition. The document also includes data from a safety technology survey taken by ABC contractors.

The Association notes that the 2022 Tech Report is developed by the ABC Tech Alliance, a consortium of firms that create construction technology and innovative solutions for ABC contractor members, the majority of which primarily perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors.

Some technologies and innovative practices by ABC contractors found in the report included robotics, drones, analytics software, project bidding software, total human health app, and safety QR codes and data sheets.

The report also includes insights regarding reality capture, glass and window systems, safety monitoring, payroll and timesheet software, as well as building information modeling and project management tools, among others. A full copy of the report and case studies can be viewed here.

In maintaining growth in 2022, Dodge Construction Network predicted in December that the rise in sustainable construction and adoption of new technologies will remain the leading trends in 2023. This, in addition to recently passed legislation to fund the construction industry, is another factor believed to contribute to a generally positive outlook in 2023.

However, while the economy was still pressed through the ups and downs at the time, Dodge predicted that construction starts in the nation could remain relatively unchanged next year at $1.08 trillion. In expecting economic downturns in the future, the construction industry will be tasked again with managing increased lead times and increasing costs from material prices to labor, while also supplying the built environment with its crucial needs.

While the management of these issues could seem daunting, Dodge foresaw that while the U.S. continues to onshore more manufacturing and warehousing, supply chain bottlenecks will be better combatted throughout 2023.

Construction Employment Concerns

Last month, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction sector lost 9,000 jobs on net in March, the first decrease since January 2022. However, the Associated Builders and Contractors reports that on a year-over-year basis, industry employment has grown by 196,000 jobs, an increase of 2.5%. 

Nonresidential construction employment reportedly fell by 1,800 positions on net, with declines in 2 of the 3 subcategories. Nonresidential specialty trade lost 6,100 positions, while the number of nonresidential building jobs decreased by 2,800. Heavy and civil engineering added 7,100 net new jobs.

The construction unemployment rate also declined to 5.6% in March. Unemployment across all industries decreased from 3.6% in February to 3.5%.

An analysis of the data by the Associated General Contractors of America noted that the decrease has occurred even as the sector’s unemployment rate fell and the total number of job openings in the sector hit a near-record high.

Construction employment in March reportedly totaled 7,888,000, seasonally adjusted, a dip of 9,000 or 0.1% from the record high in February and the first decrease in 14 months. A separate government report released this month reported that job openings in construction at the end of February totaled 384,000, just shy of the all-time high for February of 388,000.

Officials said that the industry was struggling to replace aging workers and pushed for new construction training and education support, as well as immigration reform measures to encourage more people into the industry.


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