Contractors Invest $1.6 Billion Annually in Workforce Development

As the labor shortage continues to impact contract glaziers across the U.S., many are working to improve their training programs to retain and recruit employees. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) 2019 Workforce Development Survey, ABC member contractors invest approximately $1.6 billion annually in workforce development. Trade and specialty contractors, including contract glaziers, account for $1.3 billion (83%) of those investments.

The survey estimates that ABC member contractors invest an average of $117,679 on workforce development and education annually. In 2018, ABC member contractors provided safety education to nearly 600,000 workers.

“Since 2013, contractors have shifted the focus of their workforce development program to include more senior leaders, project managers and field managers/superintendents,” reads the survey.

The average investment in workforce development increased by $100 per person from 2013 to 2018 and the use of online education doubled from 10% to 20% in that same period.

The main obstacle to workforce development is a busy schedule, followed by a lack of interest from personnel, the high cost of training and uncertainty about the quality of various training methods.

The majority of contractors (92%) reported that a skilled labor shortage exists, which is up 11% from 2013. A quarter described the skilled labor shortage as being “very severe.”

ABC contractor members reported that the exodus of baby boomers is the biggest factor increasing the severity of the skilled labor shortage. Other factors include:
• The perception of the industry as technologically unsophisticated;
• Difficulty finding candidates who can pass a drug test;
• Higher compensation in other industries;
• Immigration, licensure and background check requirements;
• Working conditions;
• Perception of the industry as unsafe;
• Higher compensation in other areas of the U.S.;
• Full employment and headhunting; and
• Cyclical industry.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents have an ABC chapter-affiliated apprenticeship program and 11% have an independent program. However, 41% have no apprenticeship program at all. The average number of apprentices or trainees involved in these programs is 22.

METHODOLOGY

Industry consulting firm FMI conducted the survey. It was open from January 8, 2019 to February 19, 2019. The sample response rate was 7% of all ABC contractor members.

Contractors Still Face Challenges Managing Risk with Technology

Contractors, including contract glaziers, still face significant challenges in managing risk on their projects, but are optimistic about the potential for technology to help, according to the recent report, “Using Technology to Improve Risk Management in Construction,” by Dodge Dat a & Analytics and Triax Technologies.

DIFFICULTY OF RISK MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES

When asked to rate the difficulty level of six risk management activities, 66% of contractors rated ongoing management of project risks as the most difficult activity.

The other tasks ranked by difficulty include:
• Preparing critical assessment of project risk;
• Accounting issues for projects;
• Identifying project risks;
• Determining insurance coverage limits for projects; and
• Determining project risk-related events.

The report also addresses the ways contractors manage risk. Most contractors (72%) stated that they proactively monitor risk practices onsite. However, more than two thirds of them only somewhat agree with this statement. Therefore, even this most widely used approach is not rigorously adopted or pursued onsite, according to the report.

MEANS OF USING SAFETY AND RISK DATA

According to the report, proper data management is essential to being able to extract useful analysis and insight. Contractors reported that in-house is the preferred method of collecting, analyzing, incorporating and acting upon safety and risk data. Many contractors who are not currently doing these activities would like to in the next three years.

“Contractors generally recognize the value of these activities, which suggests that resource and expertise constraints are key issues preventing wider use,” says the report.

There were some major differences in how these activities are managed when comparing by company type.

USE OF TECHNOLOGY TO MANAGE RISK

Contractors also rated the level of engagement their firms have of applying technology for six risk management practices:

• Employee training (59% reporting high/very high levels of engagement);
• Safety incident documentation (47%);
• Job hazard analysis (46%);
• Worker certification (44%);
• Emergency preparedness (35%); and
• Real-time site monitoring (36%).

LIKELY IMPACT OF IOT TECHNOLOGY ON RISK

According to the report, the increasing use of sensors on jobsites is helping to usher the construction industry into the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). Contractors surveyed were asked how IoT could be applied to help mitigate risk. The five types of risk with the greatest potential for which IoT can best improve contractors’ project risk performance are:
• Occupational risks;
• Risks to the public/non-workers;
• Property damage risks;
• Construction defects; and
• Financial risks.

FACTORS IMPACTING USE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY

The most important factors considered when evaluating technology reported by contractors are ease of use, costs, training and support available, and quantified ROI.

When it comes to the most important capabilities encouraging adoption of technology for risk mitigation, contractors reported wanting to be able to negotiate lower insurance premiums, recover lost time away from work and win more work due to their safety record.

Lack of verifiable ROI, lack of internal resources to implement, privacy concerns and safety concerns were reported as being the top barriers to decision-maker buy-in on new technologies for project risk mitigation.

Briefly

The Architectural Glass and Metal Certification Council, governing council for both the North American Certification Council and the Architectural Glass and Metal Technician Program, has received exempt status from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3).

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