Historically, the construction industry has been quite binary in terms of available jobs. Either you are a hard labourer out in the field moving bricks, or you are a corporate executive running cold numbers. But times are changing, and they are changing fast. In today’s construction industry, you can be almost anybody you want to be. Anything from a business professional, software developer, structural engineer, or robotics engineer to an entrepreneur, digital marketer or a traditional builder. This massive shift is primarily due to the influx of technological advancements and tools to the construction industry. And this couldn’t have happened at a better time. The construction industry is facing a massive labour shortage with almost one third of the workforce being close to retirement age. When this shortage emerged, there didn’t seem to be any hope in recruiting the tech loving millennial generation to the industry. That has quickly changed and there is much more incentive for millennials to join the construction workforce. Here is why this is one of the most exciting times in history to join construction.
1. Robotics, VR, AR, Drones
The kind of tech entering the construction space is truly extraordinary. Late last year, Boston Dynamics, the company that built the robot that can do backflips, announced a partnerships with several construction firms to introduce Spot into the field. Spot is a robot dog that maneuvers the construction site autonomously and collects a steady stream of data. It’s an amazing feat of engineering and an exciting addition to the construction industry’s tech space. Similarly Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have entered the industry serving its purpose both in the field, for training the workforce, and in the corporate office. Starting with AR, this technology can serve an amazing function in office meetings, displaying a digital twin of an ongoing build at the center of the table allowing project directors to run through the progress of the build and point out where the problems are. This is a visual alternative to handing out long reports packed full of numbers and labels which can be cognitively draining. Virtual reality is allowing project teams to bring digital twins into the field and immerse themselves in the model in the digital space. This helps create a more visual representation of what is going on and where their focus needs to be at any given time.
2. Build cross industry skills and creativity
Due to the dynamic environment of the industry, new entrants into the workforce will be forced to learn a vast array of new skills. These skills will not be exclusive to construction and can serve as a powerful foundation for a long and fruitful career in any industry. One day you might be managing a team of drone operators, the next learning about the insights provided from your sites robot dog. Given the state of the global economy and never ending rise of technology in the workplace, learning to handle new technologies is an important skill. The half-life of any given technology today is on average 5 years. That is a tight timeframe which is on course to get even tighter. Knowing how to navigate such a dynamic environment is important in all industries and will ensure that your skills transcend the majority of industries relying on technology. Additionally, there is a long list of use cases for new technologies, regardless of their underlying value proposition. Qflow is an environmental risk management platform and yet, the technology has multiple business benefits. Learning to use your creative mind to find unexpected useful applications of technology can be a highly rewarding skill in your career.
3. Be anyone you want to be
No matter what you have studied at university, what field you are interested in pursuing, or what field you have a vast experience in already, construction can be your platform to pursue something new and exciting. There is an opportunity for almost every professional to refine their skills in construction. As a business person, you can pursue managerial positions, marketing positions, executive roles, business intelligence, research etc. Similarly, if you are a software engineer or a data scientist, you can work on corporate enterprise software, build new software from scratch with a startup, or work client side in government on a wide variety of projects. The sky is the limit. The reason for this is the fact that construction is becoming more complex and more demanding. Project directors and executives may dread this, but if you are just joining the workforce, this is a great time to dig into new juicy problems, learn new skills, and become a highly trained professional in your given domain.
4. An industry on a mission
As millennials are joining the workforce, they are placing higher demands on the purpose and mission of the companies they work for. Companies without a strong mission or purpose usually don’t pass the vetting process of newly graduated millennials. The younger generation are becoming increasingly aware of the ripple effect their action has and the fact that they can control who they work for and the impact they are having. So how does this tie into construction? Well, the construction industry is one of the biggest contributors to global carbon emissions. But the industry is mobilizing is resources to tackle this. Construction firms are pouring resources into reducing their impact to contribute to the fight against climate change and new technologies are emerging every day to help the industry do this. Since 2015, the green building sector has been on the rise and its level of growth has outpaced the remaining construction sector. The construction industry is ripe for a new workforce of ambitious, sustainability focused millennials, or any other professional who is placing an increased focus on the purpose of their career.
This industry is on the frontline of combating climate change and the new workforce will be part of the generation that either moves the world’s climate towards substantial improvement or lets the climate slip past the point of no return. The young construction workforce will be true leaders and have a massive impact on the future of our environment.