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Bolstering an unskilled workforce through quality field inspections

By Linda Schwefel
January 4, 2022

Having problems finding skilled construction workers? You’re not alone. The labor shortage has hit the construction industry particularly hard: home builder contractors estimate that nearly three-quarters of a million construction workers will be needed each year to keep up with demand and account for attrition, while 92% of commercial construction contractors report moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers.

According to the Q3 2021 Chamber of Commerce report however, finding skilled workers in the industry continues to be a challenge, with labor shortages resulting in 73% of contractors stating it’s more difficult to meet deadlines and 59% putting in higher bids for projects. Perhaps most alarming, 42% of contractors reporting that they’ve turned down work due to skilled labor shortages.

The labor shortage as status quo

As in other industries, the average age of construction workers has been steadily increasing, from 36 in 1985 to 42.9 in 2020.  Not only is this older than the median age for all workers, the physical nature of construction work means that workers retire earlier, averaging 61 years.

A larger issue is that fewer young people are going into construction. A 2016 study found that of the 74% of young adults aged 18-25 who knew what career they wished to pursue, only 3% wanted to work in construction trades. Even more alarming, of the young adults without a career choice in mind, 21% would consider a career in the construction trade only if the pay were more than $100,000 a year, while 43% wouldn’t consider construction work at any level of compensation.

Clearly, the labor shortage isn’t going anywhere, and construction contractors need to adjust to make best use of the workers they have, whether they have twenty years on the job… or twenty minutes.

Construction worker performing a quality field inspection at a project site using at ablet


The role of quality inspections with new workers

Routine inspections are a crucial part of every construction project. They ensure that workflows within a project are planned according to requirements, standards, and regulations. Regular inspections are essential as a project advances to ensure industry standards for accuracy and quality are met. They also play a crucial role in keeping construction work on schedule and within budget.

The workforce landscape is changing, with experienced workers retiring and fewer newcomers entering the industry. With limited room for error, it’s imperative to maximize every worker’s potential and ensure right-first-time work. This is more critical than ever.  Fulfilling these needs is the quality inspection.

Quality inspections serve two essential roles. They verify work against specifications, ensuring precision. Simultaneously, they provide newcomers with helpful quality checklists, aiding them in staying on track.

This thorough quality assessment at every stage plays a crucial role in quickly identifying and rectifying errors. This prevents errors from becoming habits and minimizes material waste. It also reduces the need for costly full-project rework.

Everyone is a quality inspector

With Fulcrum’s field inspection management platform, full participation in quality assurance is within reach for every worker. Checklists ensure that work is done to specification, with image and video capturing to document work performed. Mandatory entries ensure necessary information is provided. Drop-down menus offer options to novice workers, sparing them from describing job specs or site conditions.

Labor shortages increase the likelihood of workers being alone in the field. Digital inspections enable supervisors to remotely manage staff, ensuring they’re in the right place and addressing issues promptly.

To maximize productivity, it’s crucial for workers to stay in the field. The Fulcrum field inspection management platform uploads data to the Cloud, allowing instant sharing for analysis and reporting. This eliminates the need for workers to commute between job sites and offices.

Fulcrum’s field inspection management for construction quality

Fulcrum’s mobile field inspection management platform empowers your workers to become field inspectors, regardless of knowledge and experience level, providing you with the consistent, complete, and accurate project quality inspection data you require to stay on track, on budget, and meet your deadlines.

Take digital field inspections for a test drive

To try Fulcrum’s construction quality field inspection management for yourself, we’ll digitize an existing form, checklist, or spreadsheet for field testing in Fulcrum at no charge (for qualified customers – contact for more information).  You’ve got nothing to lose, except a few coffee-stained pieces of paper and some clipboards.

Join the over 2,500 Fulcrum customers who have improved field inspection processes and streamlined reporting with real-time, scalable data sharing. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today!