Tech-Savvy: Young Workers Seek, Embrace Digitalization

Technology has transformed the construction industry, enabling companies to meet strict timelines and budgets while enhancing safety. This is due to the introduction of various advanced tools such as building information modeling software, virtual and augmented reality, drones, robotics and three-dimensional printing.

Young Workers Embrace Technology

The industry’s digital transformation has also helped appeal to a newer generation of workers who have grown up in a digital era and are eager to work with cutting-edge tools and technologies. These workers include Generation Z, typically referred to as digital natives born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and millennials, defined as those born between 1981 and 1996.

In fact, CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association representing the technology industry, reports that 71% of millennials say an organization’s embrace of technology and innovation is a factor in where they work.

As young workers enter the workforce, their desire for modern technologies has altered how companies attract and retain employees. For example, Pioneer Cladding and Glazing Systems Inc. has embraced the shift to digitalization, states general superintendent Joey Davidson.

“We try to use the most advanced and innovative technology on the market at Pioneer,” he says. “We use total robotic stations, digital laser levels and distance shooters in the manufacturing and installation of our exterior glass and curtainwall systems.”

Davidson adds that thanks to digitalization, the Mason, Ohio-based company can offer employees an even more seamless technological experience than before. Instead of lugging around multiple sets of drawings, Davidson says that glaziers can carry phones and tablets loaded with Bluebeam software. The program can be accessed anywhere and helps architects, engineers and construction teams connect office and field.

“Using digital technology like Bluebeam allows us to pull up any drawing we need at any time, and it allows us to print drawings onsite instead of waiting for our project manager to bring them to us,” he says.

Adrian Lowenstein, national business development manager for New York City-based Skyline Windows, explains that digitalization doesn’t have to involve anything revolutionary. It can include everyday items, such as tablets that can share real-time data. He adds that a major benefit of technology is the ability to pre-assemble glazing systems offsite, which has enhanced safety by limiting the number of laborers and trades onsite.

Artificial intelligence (AI), such as ChatGPT, has also captured the attention of companies, allowing them to streamline operations, promote content and increase marketing reach.

Lowenstein says that digitalization has enabled companies to target young workers via social media and other job platforms, which is vital in a world where 84% of adults aged 18 to 29 say they use social media, according to Pew Research Center.

Seeking Purpose

Digitalization and technology have changed how companies tackle pressing issues that concern young workers, such as sustainability. This includes developing technological avenues for implementing sustainable and green measures, such as energy-efficient building designs, renewable energy integration and smart building technologies.

The glass industry has jumped to the forefront of sustainable initiatives to reduce the amount of energy loss in a building. This is a positive for young workers who say it’s important that employers act on environmental issues, according to a 2022 study by Bupa, a European health insurance and healthcare company.

For example, technology companies such as NEXT Energy Technologies and Ubiquitous Energy have embraced technological advancements to redefine everyday items, such as windows. The companies have developed coatings and products that can turn glass into a passive energy harvester, a level of technology once considered impossible due to glass’ transparency.

Daniel Emmett, NEXT’s executive chairperson, says businesses must fundamentally rethink how they design, construct, power and manage the built environment. That includes harnessing the power of technology to attract and retain young talent, which is vital for innovation.

Joshua Huff is the assistant editor of USGlass magazine. Email him at jhuff@glass.com and connect with him on LinkedIn.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *